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Fire Ravages Landmark Hardware : $500,000 Loss of Merchandise Reported in Blaze

November 28, 1986|DAVID SMOLLAR | Times Staff Writer

San Diego Hardware Co., long a downtown landmark, was heavily damaged during a three-alarm fire in the Gaslamp Quarter on Thanksgiving afternoon. No injuries were reported.

The stubborn, smoky blaze was reported at 4 p.m. and vexed more than 75 firefighters for almost an hour as they donned masks and air tanks to try and find the fire's origin in the back of the store, in the middle of the block on 5th Avenue between F and G streets. The store is being expanded through the back into an old hotel which is undergoing remodeling on 4th Avenue.

Bill Haynsworth, co-owner of the hardware, said there was up to $500,000 worth of merchandise lost in the fire. Damage to the building was still unknown, and Haynsworth said the store will be closed for at least a month. Fire officials said the fire was probably caused by an electrical problem, according to Haynsworth.

Fire Department spokesman Larry Stewart said flames were found on the upper levels of the four-story building abutting the old hotel as well as in the rear of the store's first floor. Firefighters worked to keep flames from spreading to paint and other flammable materials on the first floor. The second floor of the building houses Gaslamp Computer Supplies.

The distinctive glass tiles above the entrance of the county's oldest hardware store had to be broken by fire crews attempting to rid the building of heavy smoke. Hundreds of people watched from the Horton Plaza parking building across the street, and police had to evacuate the Pleasureland Adult Video Arcade next to the hardware.

San Diego Hardware, with more than 50,000 items in stock, has been at its present location since 1920 and has been in business since 1892. It has a reputation for stocking hard-to-find hardware, such as hand and push wood drills, wood inserts that provide machine screw threads in a piece of wood, and triangular dinner bells often used on working ranches.

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