Fire leaves Gopher Cleaners high and dry

The fire, in addition to the bridge collapse, added to the company’s woes.

Kelly Gulbrandson

Last Friday, a fire at Gopher Cleaners & Launderers forced part of the business to be shut down temporary.

Gopher Cleaners & Launderers, located at 811 Fourth St. S.E., sustained fire damage in the Laundromat and press area, causing the press area to be shut down.

Sean McKenna, Minneapolis police arson unit investigator, said the cause of the fire was determined to be accidental in origin due to malfunctioning wiring. The store had electrical service last year, McKenna said.

Owner Debbie Allen said she found out about the fire from a phone call.

“A neighbor called me and said, ‘Did you know your Laundromat is on fire?’ ” she said.

Allen said while the business did not lose any garments, the garments did have smoke damage so they will be processed through a cleaning system again at another location.

Allen said she met with an insurance claims adjustor Monday and hopes to be back up and running as soon as possible.

“A very aggressive timeline would be one to two weeks,” Allen said.

The fire comes at a bad time for the business as University classes begin in a few weeks. Allen said she expects business to decline during this time.

The Interstate 35W bridge collapse already decreased dry-cleaning business because people are not able to get to the cleaners, Allen said.

“This fire is like a double whammy,” she said.

The business is still taking in garments but is sending them over to one of three other cleaners outside the University area, Allen said.

The seven employees of Gopher Cleaners & Launderers are out of work right now, except for the few people Allen said she needs to take in any orders.

Tom DeGree, co-owner of Wilde Roast Cafe, a nearby coffeehouse, said the fire at Gopher Cleaners & Launderers is just the latest unfortunate thing to happen to the business.

It has suffered a few crimes in the past, and Allen has had a few personal setbacks, but DeGree said he admires her for continuing to move on with the business.

He posted an entry to his company’s blog Monday asking local residents to bring all their business to Gopher Cleaners & Launderers.

“It is important to students to remember while their living situation at the University is temporary, the businesses in the area are not and so it is important to remember them as you move on,” he said.