by: Tom Jones Updated:
CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - Clayton County businesses in the same shopping center where fire gutted a discount store said the damage is harming business at the worst possible time.
Workers said the fire at the Family Dollar has put a damper in their holiday spirit.
Customers and business owners said the Pointe South Corners parking lot is usually filled with shoppers around the holidays, but when fire ripped through the Family Dollar Tuesday afternoon, it left nearby businesses without power and facing smoke damage. The few stores that were able to open still lost business.
"It was scary. I was scared. I was panicked,” customer Rachel Cole told Channel 2’s Tom Jones.
She was getting her hair done at a salon in the shopping center at the time.
"And suddenly the men came in and say, ‘Fire! Fire! Fire! And I say, ‘What is it, (a) fire drill?’ Then I came out. My hair was half-done,” Cole said.
The fire not only left Cole's hair unfinished, it helped take a bite out of the profits of several businesses.
"We’re waiting on Georgia Power to turn the lights on, so we can get back to work," said Kenny Crum with the Peezy Cuts Barber Shop.
Emergency crews had to shut off power because the fire was so intense. A day later, it was still off at noon.
"No electricity,” said Mohammad Sharker, the owner of a Subway.
He couldn't open because of a lack of electricity and smoke damage in his business.
"The smell is very bad," he said.
Owners said this is the time of year customers are off and want to shop, but that's not the case at Pointe South Corners.
"It's impacting us pretty much," Crum said.
And with the businesses not being able to open, employees are affected as well. A manager at Citi Trends told Jones his employees won't be left out in the cold.
“We'll take care of all our employees," he said.
The manager said his employees will move to other stores until their store can re-open.
Rachel Cole did come back a day later to get her hair done. She said despite all the power outages, smoke damage and the fire, there's still reason to be thankful.
"The buildings (are) gone, but lives have been saved," she said.
By mid-afternoon Wednesday, the power had been restored to the shopping center. But some businesses remained closed or had to air out their stores to get the smoky smell out.
Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire.