The effects of the blaze that destroyed a 60-year-old retail store in Old City Wednesday reverberated throughout the business community in the historic neighborhood used to customer-filled shops on a spring day.
Sue McKee, the owner of Old City Flowers, closed the shop at 31 S. 3rd St. and ended the day's deliveries early as the smoke continued to drift past while firefighters battled hot spots throughout the day.
"As soon as we get these last deliveries out, I'm going to send the girls home," McKee said.
The inferno forced Center City Veterinary Hospital to cancel its appointments and send staff home.
The outgoing voicemail from Center City Vet tells pet owners, "It is Wednesday, April 9th and there has been a serious fire on the corner of Market and 3rd Street. For the benefit of the staff's health and safety, we are closed for the day."
No patients were staying in the hospital at the time and no surgeries were scheduled, making the evacuation easier, said Dana Byrnes, a nurse at the hospital.
"We're hoping everything clears out for tomorrow, but there was definitely quite a bit of smoke coming into the building that we were breathing," Byrnes said.
Restaurant owner Michael Stosic is also eager for the smoke to dissipate and the fire trucks to clear out.
"Nobody wants to sit next to a big firetruck with the smoke," said Stosic, who runs Sto's Bar at 236 Market St.
Sidewalk seats were empty as firefighters continued to spray water on remaining hot spots.
"I don't know how long it takes to do the cleanup," Stosic said. "But as long as it's out there, it's certainly going to affect the business."
Despite their frustration, the business owners are keeping the blaze that decimated Suit Corner in perspective.
"You just keep going and keep believing in yourself and your business," Stosic said. "And the neighborhood."