Police are looking for a pair of suspects who set Los Angeles shoe store Sportie LA on fire.
The shop at 7366 Melrose Ave. was set ablaze around 1 a.m. on Thursday, causing extensive damage to the property and merchandise.
“Fortunately, nobody got hurt at all,” store owner Isack Fadlon said to Footwear News during an interview. “It was just a lot of property damage. Pretty much all of our merchandise gone, but that’s all replaceable.”
Some media outlets incorrectly reported that Fadlon’s flagship store at 7753 Melrose Ave. was damaged.
Sportie LA, which sells sneakers, shoes and apparel, also has a kid’s specialty store at 7751 Melrose Ave.
Fadlon added “the arson division is looking to investigate.”
“We have surveillance cameras,” he said, “Going through it we saw two individuals who the fire department characterizes as transients.”
Fadlon said one of the suspects was recorded on security footage reaching into a pocket and then ignited a piece of cardboard while standing behind the building’s rear door, then “mingled” with another suspect.
“They left it lit and walked away,” he said.
Stunned, he added that that it was hard to imagine “two people nonchalantly lighting your business on fire.”
Fadlon said that he believes the building was on fire for nearly 20 minutes before authorities arrived, “but was on fire for much longer than that.”
“Apparently the L.A. fire department got about three different calls,” from observers he added.
He rushed to the scene when he found out the news from his sister Rose, who alerted him around 1:20 a.m.
“You drive up and it’s pretty daunting,” Fadlon recalled. “You see about 12 fire trucks, flames, the smoke billowing and spectators everywhere. You realize it’s your place, your business, and you feel so helpless. Just seeing it — you see the destruction right in front of you.”
Fadlon said that he plans to rebuild in the same location.
“We had a restoration company come in and board everything up and remove the water damage,” he explained. “Based on conversations with contractors, we’re looking at two-to-three months or more.”
Fadlon said he has received an outpouring of support from neighbors.
For displaced members of his staff, who he said are “bewildered,” he plans to shift employees to his flagship.
“Nobody’s going to miss a beat,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but at least no one got hurt.”