Early morning fire destroys Chelten Avenue flower shop

More than eight hours after the owners of Flowers By Jannette florist shop on Chelten Avenue got a call that their business was being destroyed by a quick-moving fire, employees watched firefighters clear out the scene and try to figure out exactly what happened.

“It’s awful,” mustered Laverne Hayes, who worked at the store for 28 years. But, “we’ve gotten some offers to work out of other places.”

That’s important, since flower-friendly Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and the stand-alone store did not look as if it would be put back together anytime soon, if ever.

The fire, at 921-23 E. Chelten Ave., was reported at 1:27 a.m. Wednesday. Fire officials declared it under control 28 minutes later.

No injuries were reported, but two men who lived in a building behind the store, connected by an elevated walkway, have received help from the American Red Cross to find shelter. One of those residents was speaking with the owner’s wife outside a neighboring business, his hand grasping his dog’s leach. Both looked to be shaken, but not hurt.

Around 10 a.m., after chainsaws buzzed at the scene, ladders were hosed off and hoses gathered, investigators huddled inside the building which no longer had much of a roof in an attempt to determine the cause. Chelten Avenue was still blocked off between Boyer and Sprague streets.

Department officials said they are still investigating the fire and representatives of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the scene.

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