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Fire destroys Tillman Plaza

by Merrie Leininger

Elinor Skiles, owner/operator of The Porcelain Place and owner of the Tillman Center at the corner of Tillman Lane and Kimmerling, said she was in shock after seeing her business burn Wednesday morning.

“The building is totaled. I lost about half the contents of my gift shop, so I salvaged half. The beauty shop also salvaged a few things,” Skiles said. “I’ve never had anything like this happen in my life.”

She said she has to discuss her options with her insurance agent before she decides what to do.

“We are going to talk about rebuilding, but I don’t know if I want to do that. I may sell the property to the government for a post office,” Skiles joked. “It’d be a good place for a post office.”

Skiles has owned the property since 1997 and rented the space for eight months before.

She ran her porcelain painting business out of her garage before that and Skiles said that is probably where it will be again until she gets back on her feet.

Skiles said her business involves painting on blank white porcelain pieces and firing them in a kiln, but she said the kiln was not on when the fire started.

“I was painting a tea set and I left early because it was snowing so bad. I didn’t start on the tea cups so I didn’t even start the kiln that night,” she said.

Fire Inspector Terry Taylor of the East Fork Fire district said the fire started a little before 7 a.m. The investigation has been held up by the dangerous condition of the building.

“We can’t go back in because of the fire damage and a bad roof. The insurance company has to retain a contractor and saw the roof off. It may be a week before be get back in,” Taylor said.

Taylor said there is no reason to believe the fire was set on purpose. He said it probably started in the restaurant, Ranchos Grande, which had just opened. Skiles said the lease owner of that part of the building had just sublet the restaurant to the owners of Ranchos Grande.

Damage to the buildings and contents is estimated to be $400,000, Taylor said.

Another resident of the building was Sandy Shupe, the owner of Ranchos Hair Co..

She said she is getting back on her feet with the help of Jennifer Tillack, the owner of Finishing Touches.

Shupe and all her employees will be working out of Finishing Touches at 1281 Kimmerling, in the Gorman Shopping Center.

“Jennifer has been wonderful. It is a temporary situation, but she said I can stay there as long as I need to. I would like to thank all the other offers to let me move in with them.” Shupe said she got four other offers from beauty parlor owners.

Shupe said she will be starting Monday in Finishing Touches, but she is determined to get back in a shop of her own soon.

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