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Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Riviera Beach deemed unsafe following overnight fire

Posted at 4:39 AM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 18:12:22-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Riviera Beach Code Enforcement has deemed a building that houses a Habitat the Humanity ReStore "unsafe for human occupancy" after an early morning fire.

Fire crews from Riviera Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue responded to the scene at Military Trail and Dyer Boulevard around 1:20 a.m.

Riviera Beach interim Fire Chief John Kurd said it required a coordinated effort to contain the fire at the north end of the 20,000 square foot structure and have it under control in a few hours. But the store’s reopening date is unknown.

"Between the fire damage and of course the extensive water damage, from what we can tell right now there’s damage to the entire store," said Bernie Godek, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County.

Godek said the Riviera Beach site was popular for hurricane preparations. In addition to selling storm shutters, the store also provided post-hurricane supplies.

"The price and the how the customer saves, and those are some of the things you’ve got to think about when you’re doing repairs," said Earnest Locke, a customer.

Beatriz Nunez, an assistant store manager, said customer traffic had recently increased at the site due to the start of hurricane season.

"People have been coming in a lot lately," said Nunez. "The past week they’ve been coming in for storm shutters."

Godek worries the Riviera Beach store’s closure will hurt administrative and operation costs. He’s now encouraging the public to make donations to the non-profits two other ReStores in Jupiter and Greenacres.

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"So when somebody makes a donation to a home to be built, 100 percent of that donation goes to the home," Godek said. "We don’t have to take any administrative costs out of that whatsoever. So the stores are very important to us."

The state Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.