BLOOMFIELD, NJ — On Tuesday, Jan. 21, a fire destroyed a two-story Washington Street building that housed nine businesses, including Roxy Florist at the corner of Glenwood Avenue. According to Bloomfield Fire Department Chief Lou Venezia, the call came in at 7:45 a.m. There were flames inside the walls and ceiling of the second floor when the firefighters arrived. No one was injured, according to Venezia.
The building is owned by Nick Zios, 89, a florist who has operated Roxy Florist for 64 years. Zios was at the scene of the fire in the early afternoon and said he discovered his business was on fire when he came to work in the morning and found the street closed.
“When I got closer, they waved me off the avenue,” he said.
He said he has spent much of his time at his shop and, mustering faint humor, said that he sleeps there.
“It doesn’t look like I’ll be sleeping here anytime soon,” he said quietly.
Standing with him was John Dey, a florist who has worked for Zios for 15 years. Dey was coming to work, too — walking from his home three blocks away — when he saw the fire.
“It was horrible,” he said. “There were flames and smoke. My God, it was pitiful.”
As he spoke to the newspaper, several men came up to Zios and introduced themselves as claim adjusters, proffering business cards. Dey turned and shook his head, saying he had counted eight adjusters already.
One of the second-floor tenants was the Bloomfield Center Alliance, which promotes the downtown area by hosting street fairs, dining experiences, pop-up art galleries and classic car shows while helping Bloomfield Center businesses promote themselves. A highlight of the year in Bloomfield is the BCA’s annual Washington Street party. Less than two months ago, a fire caused considerable damage to another Washington Avenue building, whose top floor remains closed.
In a telephone interview, BCA Director Ollyn Lettman said he was making “a lot of phone calls” to find a place where the alliance could work. Although some are part-timers, the BCA employs six people, including Lettman.
“We’re so sorry for ourselves and the businesses in that building serving our community,” he said.
Lettman said that, in addition to Roxy and the BCA, the building contained a bike shop, a barber, a store selling hot dogs and another one selling ice cream, a yoga studio that was about to open, an attorney’s office and a security placement company.
“It’s a heartbreak all the way around,” Lettman said.