Business owners recovering from arson

Staff photo by Mike Briotta

Burned-out remnants of the Viotta Village shopping plaza are a stark reminder of local business owners, now recovering from the arson.

Dianne Cohan, owner of Rich's Carpet, is working out of her house in Cottonwood.

"Business is OK," she said. "We are finishing up work that we had contracted before the fire. And we are working on some new sales, too."

Cohan said that now that their showroom is destroyed, business is difficult.

She added that they have ordered some flooring samples to replace those destroyed by the fire.

"We need a certain amount of inventory to show customers," she said. "I’m hoping to continue this way until we get re-established."

Cohan said Rich's Carpet will probably re-open its store in the Viotti Village where they had been in operation for 13 years.

She said she doesn't have a dollar figure for the loss, and added that they warehouse at different locations so they didn't lose their entire inventory.

"We lost everything in our store," she said. "We just bought a new computer, that's gone. I can't imagine how bad it would be if we didn't have insurance."

Cohan added that she is glad that no one was injured in the fire.

"Our telephone number is operational and we are still able to do flooring," Cohan said.

Customers needing flooring can call Rich's Carpet at 634 0864.

LaFemme Salon of Beauty owner Donna Wall said she is opening a new shop of the same name in the Clemenceau Plaza, located in the 500 block of Arizona 89A in Cottonwood

"All seven of my hairdressers will be with me," she said. "We're excited. We’ll will be open from 8 a.m. until we finish, Monday through Saturday."

She said she expects to be open sometime in the next week or so.

"We lost everything from the fire," she said. "After 21 years in the same location, too. My shop was a total loss."

Wall said her business was insured and added, "I really want to thank the community for all the support, especially the fire department and the police."

Pete Viotti of Cottonwood built the Viotti Village center in 1976 where he ran Viotti Furniture for about 27 years.

He said he is not sure what is happening with the businesses that were affected by the fire and added that he hopes to rebuild and re-open the Viotti Village mall soon.

"A couple of them have indicated that they would like to come back, but we don't know yet," he said.

Viotti added that he is still estimating the extent of the damage with his insurance company.

"I've sold furniture for about 35 years," he said. "This is my first experience with arson."

Fire department officials and Mr. Viotti estimate the damage to be at about $1 million.

"The video store said they were interested in coming back in," he said. "I would like to express my appreciation to police and fire departments. It was a job well done."

Management of Video Value Inc. were unavailable for comment, as was Baskets By Jane located in LaFemme Salon of Beauty.

Village Furniture Owner Bruce Lerum said, "We had smoke damage throughout the store but no soot. Now, we are working with our insurance company."

Lerum said his store had heavy smoke and added that he was very pleased with the job all of the firefighters did.

"I want to thank them for the great job they did fighting the fire," he said. "And for the concern and compassion they showed."

Fire crews from Cottonwood, Verde Valley, Jerome, Clarkdale, Sedona and Camp Verde and Verde Valley Ambulance Company responded to Video Value in the 900 block of South Main Street at about 3 a.m. on March 18 and found the store fully involved. The fire quickly spread to the neighboring businesses.

Video Value Inc., Rich’s Carpet, LaFemme Salon of Beauty and Baskets By Jane were severely damaged.

Cottonwood Police arrested William James Woodruff, 34, of Cottonwood on March 19 on suspicion setting the fire.

Woodruff has been indicted on five counts of arson, aggravated harassment, criminal damage and staking.

Woodruff is scheduled for arraignment on April 7 at the Yavapai County Superior Court in Camp Verde.

Cottonwood police say he has not admitted to starting the fire and the case is still under investigation.

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