Brandon JCPenney reopens after million-dollar fire

1:38 PM, Jan 13, 2014   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Fire at Brandon JC Penney

Video: Brandon Town Center JCPenney reopening today

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Brandon, Florida -- After an incredible three-week renovation, the fire-damaged JCPenney at the Westfield Brandon mall is open again.

On a normal retail timetable, a renovation like this would take months.

The staff of this store made it happen in just three weeks, letting them reopen the doors to one of Brandon's favorite places to shop.

At the front of the line at 10 a.m. Monday, we found Olga Hearne, JCPenney super fan.

"I am so excited! I haven't been shopping since they closed," Hearne said.

When she heard about the fire that struck the store just before Christmas, "I cried. I really cried," Hearne said.

"Because it was so sad, they were doing so well --" as she spoke, the roll-up metal doors at the store's entrance clacked and rattled and started to open.

"And they're back open!" she cheered, clapping and smiling.

If you followed Olga inside, you'd find bright and beautiful. The store has all of the latest layouts, signs, and flooring in its departments, with fresh carpet and paint everywhere.

A few empty shelves will be filled in during the coming days. The last touches are almost done. Registers are ringing.

It's a dramatic change from the dark day just before Christmas when an after-hours electrical fire sent destructive flames and smoke surging through the store.

No one was hurt, but firefighters say damage topped $1 million. And sales were lost for the entire week of Christmas.

JCPenney made sure the store's employees still got paid. The workers cleaned the store along with a contractor.

And Olga has a plan for each of them.

"Now they're gonna be happy," Hearne said. "And I'm gonna hug everybody when I get there," she laughed.

There is something of a silver lining to this smoke cloud.

You, as a shopper, get what is essentially an entirely renovated JCPenney with all of the latest updates to how it looks and how it serves customers.

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