Cause of Lake Station fire still undetermined

2013-10-30T18:49:00Z 2013-12-19T16:25:06Z Cause of Lake Station fire still undeterminedDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

LAKE STATION | The cause of the fire that destroyed a 30-year-old landmark in the Little Mexico neighborhood of Lake Station still hasn't been determined, Fire Chief Robert Janes said.

The Oct. 13 fire at J & A Foods, 4325 E. 27th Ave., remains under investigation.

"The possibilities are endless," Janes said.

The shell of the former business has been turned over to the owners.

Evelyn Rosario said she and family members are trying to clean the site and decide  whether to rebuild.

"I want to rebuild but the funds aren't there," Rosario said.

Her family didn't have insurance coverage on the business, she said.

Friends Frances Vega-Steele and Lillian Torres are hoping to raise money and community support to help them rebuild.

"They were there for other families and now it's time to pay it forward," Vega-Steele said.

She and Torres are hoping to hold a community fundraiser and to also possibly find a storefront Rosario could use even on a temporary basis.

"We need the community to be involved," Torres said.

Evelyn Rosario's mother, Alejita Rosario, owned the store and Evelyn and her husband, Exio Rosario, have been operating it for the last five years.

The fire started in the front section of the restaurant, near the check-out area, and quickly spread, Janes said.

The business was known as "the Little Puerto Rican store."

The business, J & A Foods, was named after her two parents who came to the United States in the late 1950s settling initially in East Chicago, Rosario said.

Rosario said she worked at the combination convenience store/takeout restaurant the night of the fire.

A neighbor knocked on her door at 4 a.m. with the news of the fire. 

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