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Fire leaves West Side Bazaar’s 11 businesses in soot



BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The West Side community and business owners are devastated as a fire broke out early Tuesday morning at the West Side Bazaar.

“Everything is damaged, and also losing a business is not easy, we have been here a long time,” said Zealalem Gemmeda, the owner of Abyssinia Ethiopian cuisine, who has been apart of the West Side Bazaar for 10 years. “This business is everything for me, all of my bills and everything’s covering with this business.”

The City of Buffalo says the fire broke out accidentally around 6:30 a.m. and fire officials discovered that the fire started in the kitchen area, with an estimated cost of damages around $300,000. Fire investigators ruled the fire accidential.

The bazaar spent the day boarding up the building which holds 11 intercultural businesses that are now left in soot.

“We are like a family and we do not want to be separated from them for a long time,” said Gemmeda.

Westminster Economic Development Initiative, also known as W.E.D.I., is the non-for-profit organization behind the bazaar. Earlier this year, they announced with the help of public funding, they are moving to a new location on Niagara, however, the location won’t be available until this time next year.

“We helped them get into business, stay into business, and we’ll help them navigate this terrible time. We’re all pointed at next year, but we’re going to have to figure something to do obviously in-between because this is how these people make a living,” said Erin St. John Kelly, the Director of External Relations at W.E.D.I.

The Business owners are devastated, but say the West Side community has been supportive.

“The way I see it, the West Side Bazaar is being good with the community, and community is also supporting West Side Bazaar,” said Akec Aguer, The owner of Nile River restaurant in the Bazaar. “That makes me feel good and today that put me down — I hope we should be back.”

W.E.D.I says the next steps are to find spaces for the business owners to go to, and hopes the community can help them find spaces for them to go to in the meantime.

For more information regarding the West Side Bazaar, head to their website here, and if you would like to donate, visit here.

For more information regarding W.E.D.I head to their website here.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.



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