Friday Harbor's only commercial laundry shutdown by fire

If you were making plans to pick up your dry cleaning, well, there's no rush.

Business at Friday Harbor's only commercial dry cleaner and laundry service came to a screeching halt early Tuesday morning after fire broke out inside Sunshine Cleaners at about 2:30 a.m.

The blaze either destroyed or significantly damaged numerous items of equipment, parts of the Web Street building, left a large stockpile of laundry with smoke damage and, according to business owner Robert Kolowitz, could not have come at a worse time of the year.

"We have a lot of volume in this month and in August, and a lot of people depend on us, hotels, bed-n-breakfasts, convenience stores" Kolowitz said. "I was halfway through order for Camp Orkila. There's never a good time for something like this, but this is probably the worst."

Billows of black smoke poured out of a back corner of the building when firefighters arrived on scene shortly after 2:30 a.m. The blaze was quickly knocked down and contained within the walls of 2,400-square foot commercial building, according to San Juan Fire & Rescue.

No injuries were reported.

Kolowitz, who, along with wife Patricia, purchased the commercial cleaners four years ago, said several dryers near the front of the building were destroyed, blinds on the front office windows were melted against the glass, and the building's interior and large volume of laundry were heavily damaged by smoke.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Fire officials and insurance inspectors were at the scene early Wednesday.

Kolowitz said that he and his wife are exploring whether the smoked-damaged laundry can be cleaned by dry-cleaning companies on the mainland. Sunshine Cleaners has long collected, bundled and shipped its dry-cleaning items to the mainland for processing.

The couple also are searching for a new location in town, he said.


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