PUEBLO — Just as life is beginning to look a little bit normal for local businesses in Pueblo after COVID-19, several are faced with another challenge.
“I got a call from the police around one-twenty in the morning, there was a fire, they were cleaning up flooding andd to come see if my equipment was still salvageable and if everything was working!” said Rebecca Van-Dover, a Pueblo native and newfound business owner.
Van-Dover opened Energyro Studio at the beginning of April. Roughly two weeks later, she spent the morning cleaning up flood damage, after another office space in the building was intentionally set on fire, according to an investigation by the Pueblo Police Department. Van-Dover moved back to Pueblo from New York amid the pandemic.
“(I'm) Dealing with uncertainty because I am so new as a business, do I continue with this, do I just give up now because it’s already been such a struggle!”
Just across the hall, 1129 Spirits and Eatery is also assessing the damages to their business.
“So sad! I mean, it’s just been the last couple of weeks that we got all of our staff back and getting some hour again,” said Kayla Perry, the Bar Manager at 1129.
Perry says when the staff first saw the damage that “There was water everywhere. All the tables, all the liquor bottles, all the kitchen. Walls are completely soaked".
The restaurant was one of the first in Pueblo to receive a 5-Star variance several months ago. At the time of the fire, the business was able to operate at 100% capacity for the first time in a long time.
“We were really excited to get everyone back and going after all of these obstacles, going through the pandemic, and now with this happening… it’s just one more thing," said Perry.
TONIGHT AT 4:00/5:00@PuebloPolice1 is currently investigating a fire that they say was set intentionally early on Saturday morning. Meanwhile, all of the businesses inside of the building are hurting, just as things were looking up from #COVID19. Hear from them tonight on @KOAA pic.twitter.com/BNF7hsfNlG— Natalie Chuck KOAA (@NatalieChuck) April 26, 2021
Around midnight on Saturday, April 24, firefighters responded and noticed two sources of origin for the fire. The Pueblo Police Department was called in to investigate, and confirmed that they believe the fire was set intentionally from inside an office on the second floor. PPD says they have not yet received security footage from the night of the fire, and have no suspects at this time. One business owner told News 5 the a set of keys were found on site, but PPD has not confirmed that claim.
Meanwhile, the two businesses are "heartbroken", as Perry said.
However, both 1129 and Energyro are resilient.
“Through all these things we just learn to like, kind of buckle down and we will get through it, because this is our livelihood. This is our family," said Perry.
Van-Dover says, “I know people have been discouraged, so hopefully me starting something new will give other people hope that like, it’s gunna revive!”.
This is an ongoing investigation. If you have any tips regarding the fire, please contact PPD here.
If you would like to help 1129 Spirits and Eatery during this time, please contact them here.