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San Francisco fire forces family-owned hardware store to close

The entrance of Progress Hardware remains boarded up on Friday, after a fire tore through the Inner Sunset earlier this week. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

The owners of a 75-year-old family-owned San Francisco hardware store are looking for the community’s help to reopen after a fire tore through their Inner Sunset business earlier this week.

Father-and-son owners Joe and Randy Blair said they’re devastated after the three-alarm fire, which displaced eight people from nearby apartments and damaged Progress Hardware enough to force them to close the Irving Street shop.

The pair said they met with an insurance adjuster Friday and have meanwhile started a GoFundMe campaign to recoup some of the losses of merchandise and other property inside the store.

“We have some posters on the board,” Randy Blair said, pointing to the entrance of the store, which was boarded up. “Luckily, there have been donations. It’s a great thing and shows that the community cares.”

As of the second day, the campaign raised $9,450 out of a $100,000 goal.

READ MORE: 100-Plus Firefighters Battle 3-Alarm Blaze in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset

According to the Blairs, Progress Hardware opened in the Inner Sunset in 1948. It leaves a huge hole for neighbors because it's the only hardware store in the neighborhood and one of the few in San Francisco that isn’t part of a chain.

“We only have one location,” Joe Blair said. “Our store is definitely family-owned.”

The void also, according to the duo, leaves contractors working in the neighborhood without a nearby option to get supplies for their jobs.

Burned pieces of wood are seen in front of the boarded-up entrance of Progress Hardware on Friday. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

Additionally, nearby Yancy’s Saloon remains closed due to smoke and water damage in the back of the building, according to a red-tag notice placed on the door.

“The pub was affected because the fire department used Yancy’s to access the fire,” Randy said.

Inside Progress, he said, the backroom was completely charred and the business office on the second floor incinerated.

“The ceiling also collapsed on the paint room,” Randy said. “It would have spread further if the fire department hadn't acted so quickly.”

According to the Blairs, the fire investigation is ongoing, with fire officials telling the family that an update probably won’t come for another “two to three weeks.”

Nearby business owners and workers sympathized with the store’s closure and hoped the GoFundMe campaign would allow the Blair family to reopen in the near future.

“It's pretty sad,” Vanessa Tlahuitzo, manager of Easy Breezy Frozen Yogurt, told The Standard. “We’ve made friends with the workers there. I’m hoping that this won’t be the last that we see of them.”

John Sarikurt, owner of Lale Turkish Restaurant, said that he has supported Progress since opening his restaurant 10 years ago.

“Around here, there is only one hardware store,” Sarikurt said.“It’s convenient for the neighborhood, but now all we can do is wait and hope they open again. The economy is tough right now, and it’s even harder to start from nothing.”