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Closed twice by fire, Valpo pharmacy could re-open by weekend

Valparaiso's Fagen Pharmacy 3400 N. Calumet Ave. was gutted by fire Saturday night but owners are already out scouting for

Valparaiso's Fagen Pharmacy, 3400 N. Calumet Ave., was gutted by fire Saturday night but owners are already out scouting for a new location. | Post-Tribune

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Updated: January 27, 2014 8:57PM



VALPARAISO — An official with a family-owned pharmacy devastated by a major fire for the second time in seven months said they’re already scouting a temporary location and could re-open by the weekend.

Melissa Fagen, marketing and retail director for Fagen Pharmacy, said her father, company president Gerald A. Fagen, was out Monday morning looking for a location after a fire gutted their building at 3400 N. Calumet Ave. late Saturday.

Fire officials, meanwhile, expect to have information on what may have caused the blaze by Wednesday.

“There’s no determination of anything at this point,” Valparaiso Fire Chief David Nondorf said, adding there’s nothing to indicate the fire may have been arson.

Depending on what the company finds and how things go with the Drug Enforcement Agency for restocking prescription medication, a temporary location could be in place in a few days, Fagen said.

“We’ll turn it around quick because that’s how we work,” she said. In the meantime, customers can go to the Valparaiso location at HealthLinc Clinic, 1001 Sturdy Road, or the pharmacy’s other locations in the region.

Fagen Pharmacy had been in a shopping center at 3125 N. Calumet Ave., by the Valparaiso Family YMCA, when a June 26 electrical fire there displaced it and four other businesses.

The pharmacy opened at its newest location at the end of July and had done extensive renovation work.

“We were so excited because we loved the building and loved the corner,” Fagen said, adding the business was two weeks away from taking over the entire, three-suite space. “Nobody can comprehend the kind of work we did.”

The building was a total loss before firefighters arrived, Nondorf said. His department received a call about the fire at 11:39 p.m. Saturday and firefighters arrived within three minutes, but half the roof had fallen in by then and flames were shooting through what was left of it.

Firefighters remained on the scene until 9:30 a.m. Sunday because both equipment and personnel had to be rotated because of the cold.

“At one point or another, because of the ice, every truck we sent out there ended up freezing,” Nondorf said, adding the building was empty at the time of the fire and there were no injuries.

The ice slowed fighting the fire; a drain froze over and firefighting operations stopped while it was unclogged so water wouldn’t flood other businesses.

“We had very difficult conditions and our guys did a very nice job considering what they had to work with,” Nondorf said.

Fagen, too, gave the firefighters credit for handling the fire, given the conditions, and is pleased with the backing the business has from local residents.

“It’s these difficult times, when we experience love and support from the community, that makes things easier,” she said.



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