The Salvation Army is working to reopen its Modesto store after a fire

Some 21,000 to 28,000 pieces of clothing — from pants and shorts to dresses and shirts — are going through the Salvation Army family’s thrift store and donation center in North Modesto about every 10 days.

It’s part of what helps the store raise about $100,000 a month to support the Army’s Stockton Adult Rehabilitation Center, a 106-bed residential substance abuse program for men in Northern California.

That support came to an abrupt halt on Thursday afternoon after a fire broke out in the donation center warehouse.

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Firefighters battle a fire at the Salvation Army thrift store and family donation center on McHenry Avenue at Bangs Avenue in Modesto, Calif., Thursday, June 2, 2022. Andy Alfaro [email protected]

The fire was contained to the metal warehouse. A firewall separates the warehouse and the adjoining store. While all donated goods in the warehouse were destroyed, the store and its donated items suffered water and smoke damage. The store and warehouse are approximately 35,000 square feet, according to a previous story by Bee.

The store was open at the time of the fire, with vendors out front and a few employees in the warehouse. But no one was injured.

Modesto Deputy Fire Chief Darin Jesberg said Friday the cause of the fire is still under investigation. He said an estimate of the damage and whether the warehouse could be repaired was not yet available.

Trailer for donations

Salvation Army Maj. Sylvan Young said Friday the Army hoped to reopen the thrift store in three to four weeks. And as of Friday afternoon, he had installed a trailer in the parking lot of the thrift store for donations. They can be done at 10 a.m. at 6 p.m. daily.

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The Salvation Army family thrift store and donation center on Friday after Thursday’s fire. The Army hopes to reopen the story soon and has a trailer in the parking lot for donations. Kevin Valine

Young is the business administrator of the Stockton Adult Rehabilitation Center. He said the Modesto thrift store — which is on McHenry and Bangs avenues and nestled among car dealerships — brings in about $1.2 million a year to the center’s roughly $5 million annual budget. rehabilitation.

He said people can drop off donations of clothing, books and records, small appliances like coffee makers and toasters, pots and pans and other household items in the trailer — anything the donation center accepted before the fire, with the exception of large items, including kitchen tables and sofas.

“Once we figure out what we can do, maybe we can take some of the bigger items,” Young said. “We want to resume our activities as soon as possible.”

Young said he’s thankful the water and smoke damage in the store isn’t as bad as he initially thought. He said the store needed to be cleaned up and its wares appraised to determine what could still be sold.

He said about 21,000 to 28,000 pieces of clothing browse through the store approximately every 10 days. He said about half of it is sold in the store and what doesn’t sell is sold to be recycled into rags.

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The Salvation Army family thrift store and donation center on Friday after Thursday’s fire. The Army hopes to reopen the story soon and has a trailer in the parking lot for donations. Kevin Valine

He said the Modesto store is the largest and busiest of the three Salvation Army thrift stores that support the rehabilitation center. Other stores are in Stockton and Lodi.

“He’s a huge asset to the (Salvation Army) Stockton Corps,” said Dave Kerr, chairman of the Salvation Army’s Modesto Corps Advisory Council.

Young said the warehouse was half full at the time of the fire. He said the donated items are kept in what are called Gaylord boxes – 4ft by 4ft cardboard containers. He said there were 160 in the warehouse when the fire broke out. The boxes were stacked on wooden pallets.

Young said about 11 people work at the thrift store and donation center. He said that’s one of the reasons the military placed a donation trailer in the thrift store parking lot, to provide work for some of the employees. He said others can work at the other thrift stores or use vacations while the store is closed.

“We don’t want to move anyone,” Young said of the store and donation center staff.

Thrift shop opened in 2019

The Salvation Army opened the thrift store and donation center in North Modesto in April 2019. The site at 4418 McHenry Ave. replaced the older, smaller Army Store on Yosemite Boulevard.

The store and warehouse had housed the Simi Floral Supply Center from 1981 to 2018. The Simi family closed the business in 2018, then leased the building to the Salvation Army.

(Ron Simi built the store in 1981. Sons Robert and Richard said the warehouse was built about a decade later. It was the last location for a business Ron Simi started in 1963.)

Jesberg, the deputy fire chief, said about 80 firefighters from multiple agencies responded to the blaze, including those in Manteca, Tracy, Lathrop, Escalon and Ripon. Resources included 23 fire engines and three ladder trucks.

Salvation Army Disaster Emergency Services fed firefighters on Thursday evening, providing them with 22 pizzas, six cases each of water and Gatorade as well as chips, cookies and peanuts, according to a message Salvation Army Facebook on Modesto.

People can support the Stockton Adult Rehabilitation Center by donating to stocktonarc.salvationarmy.organd donations to Salvation Army programs in Modesto can be made at modestocorps.salvationarmy.org/modesto_corps.

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The Salvation Army family thrift store and donation center on Friday after Thursday’s fire. The Army hopes to reopen the story soon and has a trailer in the parking lot for donations. Kevin Valine

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Firefighters battle a fire at the Salvation Army thrift store and family donation center on McHenry Avenue at Bangs Avenue in Modesto, Calif., Thursday, June 2, 2022. Andy Alfaro [email protected]

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Firefighters continue their cleanup work Friday morning after Thursday’s fire at the Salvation Army family thrift store and donation center north of McHenry Avenue in Modesto. The fire started in the warehouse and its cause is under investigation. Kevin Valine

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Firefighters continue their cleanup work Friday morning after Thursday’s fire at the Salvation Army family thrift store and donation center north of McHenry Avenue in Modesto. The fire started in the warehouse and its cause is under investigation. Kevin Valine

This story was originally published June 4, 2022 06:00.

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Kevin Valine covers local government, homelessness and general missions for The Modesto Bee. He graduated from San José State University.

Maria R. Newman