First Posted: 1/15/2009
PEMBROKE – For Lilian Floyd, the timing was everything – and that is what a fire nearly cost her, at least business-wise, except for her ingenuity.
On what should have been her biggest sales day of the year, Valentine’s Day, Lloyd was doing business in a garage 3 miles from where her store sat 24 hours before.
Lilian’s Flowers burned down in Wednesday night’s Third Street fire that destroyed two other businesses and a church. So Lloyd put up a sign telling customers where they could pick up their orders, set up a space heater in her sister’s garage, plugged in a telephone and did the best she could.
‘I’ll feel good if I get all my orders out,” Lloyd said Thursday, not skipping a step as reporters and television crews interrupted her work. “Everybody seems to be concerned. My family’s been helping out.”
Lloyd said she’s been in the flower business for 18 years and knows all her customers. Her business was on Third Street for four years.
“Honey, I need some more baby’s breath,” she said to a helper. She picked up some Green Glove and sprayed a bundle of roses.”It makes them shine.”
The fire started between 8 and 9 p.m. on Wednesday and consumed a large section of the U-shaped building.
Stephanie Chavis, a fire inspector for the county, said the fire started in the middle of a church service.
‘The lights started flickering and a member of the church went back to look at the breaker, and it started smoking,” Chavis said.
According to Chavis, the fire was because of an electrical problem.
“I figure it was just an overload because with everything that was in those buildings … I seriously doubt that the electrical system had been updated for all the electrical equipment in there now. More than likely, it was an overload on the outlet,” Chavis said.
Lloyd said she got a call about 9 p.m. Wednesday after she left the shop.
“All I know is when we got there, it was just blazin’ up … just blazin’,” she said.
Brice Bryant, a member of Our Freedom Ministries Church, said the blaze looked like a fireworks display.
“We were in service and during the service the lights flickered a few times, twice actually, and the pastor looked at me and motioned me to meet him at the door so we can go outside and I did,” Bryant said.
He and the pastor went to the electric room to check things out.
“By the time he opened the door, flames just burst out,” Bryant said. “I was still in the doorway of the church, I turned around and went back in and hollered to everybody to get out. I’m the type that’s always joking around but I wanted them to know I was serious”
Bryant said he doesn’t blame the volunteer firefighters, but the 15-minute arrival time was too long.
“One police officer was there … by that time the fire was already on the roof,” he said. ” … We were emotionally drained from this thing.’
It was 4 a.m. on Thursday when Lloyd finished moving her flowers and accessories. By 2 p.m., she had put together 80 orders with the help of friends and family.
“I can’t give you a ball park figure,” Lloyd said referring to how much business she lost due to the fire, “you never know with this stuff.”
Lloyd said she planned on taking the rest of the flowers to sick people in the area.
As for her business, she said she’ll be looking for a new place as soon as possible.
“I’m not going back there,” she said. ‘I don’t need to go out of business … I can’t go on like this.”