Fire destroys historic department store in Firebaugh

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Just before nine Tuesday morning a fire broke out at City's Barber Shop right next to Rebecchi's Department Store on the corner of Eleventh and O Street in Firebaugh. (KFSN)

Just before nine Tuesday morning a fire broke out at City's Barber Shop right next to Rebecchi's Department Store on the corner of Eleventh and O Street in Firebaugh.

Both businesses were closed and no one was inside.

The city's fire chief said someone passing by noticed smoke coming out of the back of the building.

"By the time we got on scene, which we're only two blocks away, the barber shop was fully involved and the fire that moved into the attic. When it got into this common attic it just spread across the entire store," said John Borboa, Firebaugh Fire Department Chief.

Borboa said his department called in help from other fire departments including the City of Fresno. But they had to let the building burn due to the danger of a collapse.

"I went defensive instead of offensive because this building does have a full basement. So that's why we did not make any kind of interior attack in this building."

The mayor of Firebaugh said the building is owned by the Rebecchi family and that have been at the same location since 1920. The family was leasing the barber shop.

Both businesses considered customers as family members.

"It's been a department store for everybody in this community from baptisms to a lot of ceremonies, a lot of things. It's been here for a long time," said Brady Jenkins, Firebaugh Mayor.

The Rebecchi family did not want to talk on camera but they did share with us that their great uncle started the family business in the late 1800's before moving to their current location.

The business began as a grocery store, around 1940 it turned into a department store. In recent years they mainly sold antiques including old photos and newspapers.

The owner, Betty Rebecchi, was in the process of retiring, putting items in the store on clearance and looking to sell the building.

"It is a great loss to the community to the hearts of a lot of people. So it makes me sad to see this building go," said Jenkins.

The cause of the fire has not been determined and the Rebecchi family is currently adding up financial estimates on how much money was lost due to the fire.

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