Jan. 11, 2003 – A fire Saturday morning gutted the Grapevine Salon at Mongoose Junction and caused smoke and water damage to the two stores below the second-floor shop, located at the eastern corner of the shopping complex.
Grapevine Salon owner Julie Stevens said it appears that an electrical fire started in the salon restroom. However, Fire Services Lt. Ashmore Hyndman said the fire remains under investigation. He said that inspectors were on their way from St. Thomas to determine the cause.
Stevens said she planned to find another location for her shop. "We'll keep the haircuts going," she said.
She was not sure if her insurance covered fires.
No one was injured in the fire, but Bob Malacarne, St. John Rescue chief, said oxygen was administered to some of the firefighters.
The fire, which broke out around 7:30 a.m., was extinguished by 9:30 a.m. Hyndman said six fire trucks from the Cruz Bay and Coral Bay fire stations responded and about 20 firefighters went to the scene. Shifts were changing when the call came, he said, so extra staff were available.
St. John Deputy Police Chief Angelo Hill said police closed the Northshore Road from the Creek to just east of Mongoose Junction as firefighters tackled the blaze but reopened it when it appeared the fire was out. But then the fire flared up, so police again closed the road, finally reopening it at 9:30 a.m.
Glen Speer, who owns the section of Mongoose Junction where Grapevine Salon is located, said the other stores in the shopping center would be open for business as usual on Saturday. He estimated that the stores beneath the salon, Hurricane Alley and The Canvas Factory, will need a few days to clean up the smoke and water damage.
Stu Brown, who owns Hurricane Alley, said all the company's records are in a third-floor office above Grapevine Salon. Firefighters had to chop through the office to get to the fire, but Speer said it appears that the office sustained minimal damage.
Speer said the fact that the shopping center consists of several individual buildings helped contain the fire. He also gave credit to the firefighters. "They had the tools they needed," he said.
Speer's wife, Radha, and Mongoose Junction neighbor Doris Stuckert watched the fire from the driveway in front of Stuckert's house. Radha Speer said that about a dozen years ago, in an ironic twist of fate, she and Stuckert stood side by side watching St. John Lumber, owned by Stuckert and her late husband, George, erupt in flames.
"The shoe is on the other foot," she said.
Several owners of stores at Mongoose Junction, including Radha Speer, said they would be open for business on Saturday.
"But I feel very badly for Grapevine and Hurricane Alley," Trish Capuano, owner of The Fabric Mill, said.
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