The McIngvales enter damaged showroom

May 24, 2009 5:58:11 PM PDT
Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are looking through what's left of the Gallery Furniture warehouse working to determine the cause of the fire that destroyed the warehouse and much of the showroom Thursday night. Memorabilia is also being removed from the showroom.

Sunday was the first day owners Jim and Linda McIngvale have been able to get inside the showroom and actually touch things inside. Some the items appear to be in good shape, but the family says it may not be salvageable.

Linda McIngvale expected to find damage from the fire in her family business.

"It was just kind of a little overwhelming," she said.

Shattered glass lies scattered across tabletops where firefighters smashed windows to release the smoke during Thursday's fire.

Most of what McIngvale can see will have to be thrown out. That includes the linens, the furniture and the flooring. But she is here to gather the things that cannot be replaced. There are hundreds of memorabilia pieces vulnerable to the mold and smoke that linger. There's Elvis Presley's favorite jogging suit, Nolan Ryan's Astros jersey and Linda's favorite, a picture of former Presidents Bush and Clinton during their tsunami relief effort.

"That to me was one of those things where the whole community got behind it," she recalled. "It was just so amazing to see."

Outside, 20 ATF investigators called here from around the country because of the magnitude of this fire are now sifting through evidence around the burned out warehouse. They have more than a hundred witnesses to interview in their effort to determine where and how this fire started.

We found them poking around one of the prime suspects, a generator employees reported had been making strange noises. McIngvale herself stopped to take in the sight of the destroyed warehouse, one she herself designed.

"That was always my part of the business," she said.

Linda told us she and her husband remain committed to their employees. She says no one will lose their job because of this fire.

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