BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The investigation continues into who intentionally set a fire at the vacant Hospitality Inn that spread and destroyed four other buildings in downtown Birmingham.
"That is our dream,” said Sam Pokhrel, looking back at what was his shop. “Everything is gone.”
It is a simple, yet heartbreaking way to sum up the last 24 hours for him.
The Chai Market, which he and his wife own, was one of those businesses caught up in the fire.
Pokhrel was just beginning his day when it all started.
“We saw the smoke outside. So we went out, and everything gone,” Pokhrel said.
You could see the smoke from miles away just hovering over the city. Flames shot from the buildings.
It’s heartbreaking for customers like Sindhu Parazuli, who had just shopped at the store three days earlier.
“It’s really, really, really, sad to see this place like coming down to ashes. It’s really sad,” Parazuli said.
Meanwhile, business was returning to normal at neighboring venues Wednesday.
"We had to air out everything,” said Whitney Pierce, who is one of the managers at Farm Burger.
They reopened late Tuesday afternoon after losing power earlier.
“We did have to throw away some of our stuff that we prepped that morning, but at the same time we’re happy our restaurant wasn’t hit,” said Pierce.
However, just down the block crews shoveled away the broken glass and debris. Returning to normal there will be a much slower process.
“It’s bad for my customers, my community, and for us,” said Parazuli.
The owner says he plans to open a new store somewhere in the neighborhood.