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Clarence Murphy concerned for 30 employees out of work due to fire, but says he plans to rebuild ‘immediately’
Clarence Murphy looked sombre as he walked toward the remnants of the Neil's Pond Plaza strip mall in Paradise Monday afternoon.
"How are you, sir?" one of the security guards asked him as he passed by the entrance of the parking lot.
"Oh, I've had better days," he replied.
Murphy is the owner of the building that was gutted by fire late Saturday afternoon, destroying 10 businesses in the strip mall on Topsail Road.
The fire was reported just before 4 p.m. by Subway restaurant employees, who noticed smoke in the building. When firefighters arrived minutes later, heavy smoke was billowing from the roof as the flames, fanned by high winds, quickly escalated and spread across the building.
"It's heartbreaking," said Murphy, adding that he was putting on his boots to go shopping for a new mattress with his wife and was shocked when he got the call at 4:01 p.m. from his daughter, reporting she saw smoke.
"It's hard looking at all this now."
Murphy met with insurance adjusters at the scene Monday and took a walk around to inspect the damage.
Besides Subway, other businesses destroyed were the Outport Restaurant and Pub, Arizona Heat, the Nail Garden, Paradise Flowers, Academy for Mathematics and English, and a business that was about to open, Lorraine's Naughty Closet. Downstairs businesses gutted were Horizon Homes and Atlantic Industrial.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Murphy is relieved no one was hurt, but said his concern is for the businesses' owners and employees.
"I tell you what breaks my heart the most," he said. "Thirty people are out of work and that's sad. They're just trying to make a living."
Murphy also owns the building next door, which houses such businesses as Domino's Pizza and a smoke shop, but he said there was little to no damage there.
However, Murphy said he is determined to rebuild as soon as possible.
"Oh, I want to rebuild immediately," he said. "I'm hoping within the next six months, depending on the structure of the building. If it's only the woodwork, we can do it sooner. If it's the foundation, it'll take a little longer."
But not all was lost in the fire.
Insurance adjuster Rick Fifield went inside the Outport Restaurant and Pub. Minutes later, he emerged with a framed photo. He handed it to security guards McKinnon Clarke and Dave Bishop of Scarlett Security agency, who said it was a photo of NHL Boston Bruins' legend Bobby Orr.
"It's got some debris on it, but I think it can be salvaged," Bishop said. "The owner will be happy to get that back, I'm sure."