Fire-stricken Johnson Heating relocates east

       “We grew up on the Westside,” Johnson said this week. “It’s kind of sad to leave there.” There was no chance of coming back to the old location anytime soon. It’s still a mess of charred debris, and the city has not quite finished with its paperwork, which is what the insurance company is waiting on, Johnson explained. He has been able to keep the business going, in a basic way, by running things out of a trailer at the Busch Avenue site. Having a full building again will enable more organized operations, he noted. Other than a few of his vehicles, everything was lost in the fire, including company records. “The smoke and smell was amazing and awful,” he recalled of the fire’s aftermath. And without the necessary documents, staff could only talk to customers or suppliers to get straight on billing and other information. “It’s something else,” he said. “You don’t know what you have till it’s gone.” The fire started in a flukey way. High winds Jan. 5 blew over a power pole next to one side of his building. That in turn “energized the chicken wire in the stucco,” Johnson said. He thanked the many people who offered assistance afterward. “There were a lot of good people in this community who helped us out,” he said. On the bright side, Johnson said his new location has better proximity to most of the city’s new construction. When he was first getting his business going on the Westside, the locale was close to then-major developments such as Skyway and Peregrine. Now, from a business standpoint, it’s a plus to be “five minutes from Powers Boulevard,” as he put it.

Westside Pioneer article