Neighboring businesses escape damage from Valentino’s Pizza fire thanks to firewall

Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 8:15 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln Fire and Rescue estimates the damage done to Valentino’s Pizza on North 70th and Vine Street is between $350,000 and $400,000. But, LFR said the damage could have been significantly worse had the building not saved itself.

Neighboring businesses, like Lincoln Vintage Vinyl, are counting their blessings. They had no fire damage, despite Valentino’s likely being a total loss.

Like many small businesses, the pandemic has not been easy on Lincoln Vintage Vinyl.

“We actually closed for two and a half months,” said stereo technician Craig Bartels. “We were doing mail order and by appointment only.”

Last night, the locally-owned record store said it dodged what could have been another big blow to business. When vinyl gets hot, Bartels said it can warp into a bowl-like shape, and cannot be repaired.

“That’s the first thing I did when I came in the door this morning, I felt the walls and started pulling albums off the wall and nothing was warped, nothing was hot,” Bartels said. “I was very surprised. There’s a lot of stuff in here you really can’t find too many other places, so it was a relief that it was all in one piece.”

Lincoln Fire and Rescue said firewalls between the businesses in the strip mall saved the day.

“A firewall basically sections everything off so the fire stays in the place it originated,” said Captain Alex Martin. “Normally, the fire would get into the attic space in the roof line, and then it could run the length of the building. A firewall will basically go all the way through that roof line and compartmentalize each section so that it doesn’t allow for excessive fire spread.”

Martin said there is no such thing as a routine fire, but fires in strip malls are considered high-risk, due to that potential of fire spread.

“In terms of financial loss, danger to us as we are responding to a fire in a strip mall like this, this really had one of the best outcomes it could,” Martin said. “For surrounding businesses to just have light smoke damage, we count it as a win in our books.”

Lincoln Vintage Vinyl will have to replace its ceiling tiles and deep clean, but Bartels said that pales in comparison to what could have happened.

Lincoln Vintage Vinyl will be closed for the rest of this week to do that repair work, and said it might reopen on Thursday, Sept. 10, at the earliest.

Meanwhile, a sign posted to the boarded up Valentino’s Pizza, promises the restaurant will rebuild.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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