A fast-moving fire destroyed Glatt Mart on Pico Boulevard late Monday night, laying waste to aisles of groceries and causing the roof of the building to collapse.
One firefighter injured his foot fighting the blaze, but no one was in the building when the fire broke out.
The Fire Department is still investigating the cause and has not yet assigned a dollar amount to the damage.
When more than 80 firefighters responded to the alarm at 11:38 p.m., the blaze was already well under way. With highly combustible products filling the 17,000-square-foot building, the pounding rain was no match for the intense heat and energy that engulfed the structure.
Owners say they have insurance, but are waiting to hear what will be covered.
The businesses next door, which remained closed on Tuesday, sustained only minor damage, thanks to firewalls and the work of firefighters who kept the flames contained to the one structure.
Glatt Mart, owned by five Persian Jewish partners, opened a little more than a year ago on the same block as Elat Market, another large grocery serving the Persian Jewish community. A string of businesses has occupied the location on Pico Boulevard east of Robertson Boulevard since a Rite Aid drugstore moved out several years ago. Glatt Mart was the first business that looked like it was there to stay.
With clean and colorful tile décor and wide aisles, Glatt Mart thrived, despite limited parking and competition next door. In addition to its large produce section and aisles of groceries, Glatt Mart was something of a Middle Eastern bazaar, with stalls housing a butcher, bakery, a fresh fish counter and a deli with a full take-out menu.
At noon on Tuesday, firefighters were still spraying foam over the smoldering debris, with charred beams teetering from the splayed roof.
Outside Glatt Mart, owners, customers and suppliers huddled on the wet sidewalk, where gummy bears and smashed oranges lay in a bed of broken glass. The 20-foot triangular sign that topped the building lay on its side in the blackened mess of embers and groceries.
Rumors circulated amid the crowd about the cause of the fire. The rapidity with which the flames spread and the way it was contained to one structure caused some speculation among bystanders that foul play was involved. But Meir Davidpour, a Glatt Mart owner, would not engage in such speculation.
With the all-clear from the fire captain, workers went in to salvage some of the equipment and hardware. One worker collected the charred tzedakah boxes off the checkout counter.
Customers, family members and business colleagues stopped by to express solidarity with the owners and the employees -- about 50 people who will be out of work for the foreseeable future.
Davidpour, his eyes tearing with smoke and emotion, had a message for the community: "We will rebuild a brand new market and be better and stronger. We will be back soon."
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