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Fire shuts down Buffalo's West Side Bazaar

"I'm so sad today"
Posted at 1:07 PM, Sep 20, 2022

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — One of Buffalo’s popular places to eat international foods and shop local is shutting down following a fire early Tuesday morning.

Flames swept through the West Side Bazaar building at 25 Grant Street. Smoke and water caused damage to restaurants, clothing, and jewelry vendors.

Windows along Grant Street were shattered. Caution tape now blocks off the building along the sidewalk.

Vendors showed up one by one after learning of the fire. Many say they are “devastated” because they rely on their businesses inside the location.

“I’m so sad today,” declared Htay Naing.

Naing, a native of Burma, is the chef & owner of Nine & Night.

Htay Naing, vendor.

No one was hurt in the fire.

Buffalo fire said it responded to the call around 6:30 on Tuesday morning. Fire officials say the fire started in the kitchen area of the commercial structure. Damages are pegged at $300,000.

Fire investigators have ruled the fire accidental involving a countertop fryer.

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Outside the fire scene.

For now, the site will remain closed, but operators of the location have put out a community ‘call to action' and are asking if any area restaurants have space for vendors.

The director of external relations for the West Side Bazaar, Erin St. John Kelly, told 7 News The International Institute has offered refrigeration space for food vendors purchased Monday as they prepared for this week's meals.

A clothing vendor of Gadget Bazaar, showed up at the site in tears saying that her business. She's been selling at the site for one year and said it is her entire life.
She realized her merchandise was damaged and will probably all land in the garbage.

Romala Ranjendran, vendor.

“Everything black and my clothes, and everything, ” said Romala Ranjendran. “There’s no business."

"The retail — their stuff is going to be unsalvageable because of smoke damage and water damage," Kelly stated. “This is a lot.”

Fire damage inside West Side Bazaar.

“Just losing in one night — everything is devastating,” replied Zelalem Gemmeda.

Gemmenda has been cooking Ethiopian cuisine here at West Side Bazaar for ten years.

She told me Tuesday's fire inside the grant street building was “unexpected” and just spent $1,500 Monday to replenish her food items.

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Zelalem Gemmeda, vendor.

“Were you able to retrieve anything?” Buckley asked. “We don't have enough space — even if we take it home — we don't have enough space,” responded Gemmenda.

Naing said he’s been at the location for six years and it’s the only work he has to support his family.

“I don't have a job — so I have my family — my wife — my daughter,” Naing noted.

Fire damage at West Side Bazaar.

“It's a huge gash — and we're going to do our best to heal it up,” Kelly stated.

Kelly says they are trying to figure out how they can help each vendor.

“We’re going to do our best to make everybody whole and keep them busy, and we've had community outpouring has already started offering us kitchens and spaces,” explained Kelly.

Emergency enclosure crews were on the scene late Tuesday morning to board up the windows.