Cause of Washington bakery fire ruled undetermined

Published 5:18 pm Thursday, December 17, 2020

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Washington Fire Marshal R.M. Flowers has ruled the cause of what sparked the early morning fire that destroyed the La Perla Panaderia bakery at 128 E. Water Street in Washington Wednesday cannot be determined, effectively closing the case.

“There was so much damage that there’s no way we can figure out how it started,” Flowers said. “The building was fully enflamed when the crews responded around two a.m. There was nothing left that would help us determine the cause. We feel bad for the folks involved, especially this close to Christmas, and are also thankful that nobody was hurt.”

Around 20 firefighters from Washington and Chocowinity responded.

Eddie Chavez and his family operated the bakery for the last 20 years. They have another location in Greenville, but all the baking took place in Washington and all the ingredients were stored in that location. A crestfallen Chavez declined comment other than to say the business was not insured and that he didn’t know what the future held.

The Maola Ice Cream Company of North Carolina, operated by the family of Doug Currin, owns the building.

“We hate it for Eddie and his family,” Currin family spokesman Frank Styers said. “We’d love to find him another spot because he was a great tenant. We will have to tear down and start over at some point, but we don’t’ know when or what will be there right now. The building was insured.”

Styers said the building dates back to the 1940’s and housed The Sweet Shop from the early 1970’s to the early 2000’s before the bakery came in.

Firefighters were called to the bakery in November of 2019 to extinguish a small blaze that started in a laundry basket stored in the rear of the building. They put out the fire quickly and there was no damage or injuries.

Rachel Jordan of Rachel K’s Bakery has started a GoFundMe page to help the Chavez family. Donors met the original goal of $5,000 in the first 24 hours. The total was $5,298 as of four p.m. Thursday.

“We hope it will help them pay bills, feed the family, have a decent Chrsitmas or whatever else they need,” Jordan said. “it’s just heartbreaking to have something like this happened after a small business hasn’t weathered the chaos that 2020 has brought. Our staff came up with the idea and we are thrilled with the response so far.”