Fire destroys two south St. Louis businesses

SOUTH ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - A south St. Louis neighborhood has lost two of its businesses after a fire Thursday night.

The businesses damaged are the Ho Wah Chinese Restaurant and the Southside Discount Market next door. They were located in a small stip mall at the corner of Virginia and Delor. The fire broke out around 10:15 p.m.

Cierra Hatchet, a neighbor and customer, said, “It’s a neighborhood store. Everybody comes here. Anything that you need they have it.”

More than 30 firefighters battled the fire. They originally entered the building to fight the fire and were also on the roof. When the roof began to  collapse, crews were ordered to evacuate. They continued to fight the fire from the outside.

"Being that the building was just structurally decaying more or less, we had to pull our members out. There's no life safety concerns inside, so it just takes a little longer. It's got to burn through the roof, and it's just a longer process," said Fire Captain Garon Mosby.

Customers of discount grocery say name is Omar and everybody respects him.

Henry Wright says, “If you needed something and you were short, he would let you slide on it. He was open for that.”

Neighbors say Ho-Wah restaurant was not currently open after the roof had collapsed about 6 months but they were getting ready to re-open.

There is no word on what caused the fire.

Brandon Christian says, “We don’t know if it was electric or someone did it but the man has a family, that’s his livelihood. Still shocking.”

No one was injured. Both businesses are a total loss and the building will be torn down. Neighbors are sad that their reliable place to shop and meet up with friends is gone.

Hatchet says, “Me and my son would come to the store four to five times a day. There was a kitchen in back. They make so much money in store. I can’t believe it. So many people will be distraught about store.”