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UPDATE: Newhall shop fire deemed an accident

Blaze caused by unattended candle

Posted: December 26, 2012 1:20 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2012 4:32 p.m.

Freddy Jimenez looks at the debris pulled by firefighters to the rear of his sister's Newhall shop on Wednesday.

A fire that broke out in Newhall around 5 p.m. on Christmas was caused by an unattended candle, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The fire started at Botanica La Santisima at 24337 Main St. in Newhall and caused approximately $75,000 in structural damage and another $10,000 in damages to merchandise in the store, according to a fire department spokesman.

The cause of the fire has been traced to a candle burning in a closet in the store. A botanica is often a retail store that sells folk or religious medicine, including religious candles, the spokesman said.

Freddy Jimenez was enjoying Christmas dinner with family members when someone alerted him to the fire in his sister’s shop.

“Nobody wants their business like this,” Jimenez said Wednesday morning as he surveyed the fire-damaged business and sifted through a pile of charred merchandise.

His sister has owned the business for more than 10 years.

“She was supposed to come to work this morning, and this is what she gets,” he said.

Jimenez expressed some optimism that, with assistance from her family, she will be able to rebuild and return to running her business.

“We’ll help her get back on her feet,” he said.

Arson was originally reported as a potential cause of the fire, but that turned out to not be the case, the spokesman said.

It is standard procedure for the Fire Department to investigate arson in fires that cause damage greater than $7,500.

The fire also caused some damage to the neighboring store, at 24339 Main St., according to the spokesman. The extent of the damage to that location is currently unknown.

Tony Campbell, the owner of the property that houses Botanica La Santisima, said Wednesday that insurance should cover the damage caused by the fire but that it could take more than a month for the property to be repaired.
But, he stressed, he does not know for certain what the timeframe for repairs is at this time.


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