Antiques dealer copes with fire at North Palm Beach store, says pets are OK

The smoke and water damage to True Treasures antique store in North Palm Beach is extensive, but the owner of the store that has been in business 23 years is clinging to the good news: no one was hurt, her birds were at home with her and life and business will go on.

The birds, Polly and Molly, and a dog, Ralph, are the stores’ mascots and speak in her ads on TV.

“It’s something we can overcome. It’s going to be a hard few days ahead of us, but again, nobody got hurt and that is something we’ve got to be thankful for,” said Elena Johnson.

Firefighters from North Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and the county’s department were called to the store at 1201 US Highway 1 in the Crystal Tree Plaza at 3:05 a.m. They found a fire alarm blaring and the sprinkler system activated.

When they got inside the store, crews found heavy smoke, but the sprinkler system had put out the fire, said Palm Beach County Fire Rescue spokesman Capt. Al Borroto, who was speaking on behalf of all of the departments involved.

“A lot of water on the floor, and a lot of smoke. It was a shocking thing to put in front of you,” Johnson said after inspecting the damage. Johnson said she was called to the store early this morning. She was particularly relieved that her birds, that had spent a couple nights in the store recently while she was out of town, were at home with her last night.

Johnson said she carries insurance and that she believes her customers who had consignments at the shop will be covered. She expected the shop to be open again. “Hopefully, we’ll be back in business in a few days,” she said.

At one time, Johnson ran stores in three locations including one on Northlake Boulevard that sported a 13-by-40 foot flag painted on the exterior wall — an image she had to fight city hall to keep in 2009. That location has since closed. Johnson has another store in the Home Depot Shopping Center, also on Northlake Boulevard.

The state fire marshal will be investigating the cause of the fire at the Crystal Tree Plaza location.

“We’ll pick up the pieces,” Johnson said. “As bad as I feel right now, I know these are small things compared to life.”

An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the painted flag on the Home Depot Center store wall.

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