MOORESTOWN, N.J. -- The three anchor stores of a fire-ravaged suburban New Jersey mall opened Christmas Eve in hopes of catching up on some holiday business.
The three stores and more than 100 other shops in the Moorestown Mall about 11 miles east of Philadelphia were closed Wednesday by a six-alarm fire that gutted five stores.
The fire broke out about 8 a.m. at the Herman's sporting goods store, and spread to four neighboring stores. Mall and fire officials are investigating the cause of the blaze, which raged for 5 hours before 300 firefighters could bring it under control.
'It could have been a lot worse. Nobody died,' said Rocco Scavone, who manages the Boscov's department store. Two firefighters and a mall worker suffered minor injuries but were treated and released from a local hospital.
'There's not a whole hell of a lot we could do about yesterday except go forward,' said Scavone, whose store was one of three open Thursday.
Dozens of shoppers lined up outside Boscov's, John Wanamaker and Sears when the doors opened at around 9 a.m. More than 100 smaller stores remained closed and mall officials were unsure when they would reopen.
'We have some smoke damage. And between the cleaning services and employees I had 175 people in here last night to prepare to open. But we opened, and our customers seem happy,' Scavone said.
On top of smoke and other damage, Scavone estimated that the store lost $350,000 in business on Wednesday.
Some of that business went three miles south to the Cherry Hill Mall.
But David Altman, retail operations manager for the CherryHill Mall said it was difficult to estimate exactly how much the fire contributed to the Christmas Eve crush.
Fire officials said the blaze would have been a lot less serious if the Herman's store had a sprinkler systen. Herman's and several other stores were exempted from sprinkler requirements enacted after the mall opened 29 years ago.