Credit: Pete Piringer

Two Kensington businesses are recovering after they suffered collateral damage in last week’s building fire at 4140 Howard Ave. Both have stayed open.

But the furniture repair shop where the fire is believed to have started remains closed.

The fire happened early Thursday morning and caused $1.2 million in structural damage, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue officials. The exact cause remains under investigation.

Stephanie Hernandez, the chief financial officer of the home improvement contractor Hernandez Painter Decorator Inc., said her business is next door to Antonio Martinez Furniture Repair. The furniture repair business had the most serious damage and is believed by county officials to be where the fire started.

Hernandez said Monday that the furniture repair shop contained stickers plastered to the outside indicating the building was unsafe to enter and the investigation was ongoing.

Antonio Martinez Furniture Repair could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Hernandez said her business experienced water and smoke damage, but it is still operating.

“We’re very thankful … but it does impact business. My phones were down [Thursday], so I had to get Verizon to come out and fix them,” she said.

Hernandez said she is still in the “clean-up process” of getting her business back to normal, and materials damaged during the fire have to be replaced. Additionally, she said an insurance claim can’t be filed until a determination is made where the fire started.

“We’re figuring out the next steps,” she said.

Jamie Kutchman Wynne, the owner of the artisan gift-ordering service Marigold & Grey, went to the scene of the fire early Thursday morning when she found out the news.

“I sat there for two hours not knowing what shape the studio was in,” she said.

Throughout the day, she said, her feelings changed several times.

“I’ve gone from that emotion of hysterics to realizing no one got hurt to going into go-mode,” she said.

Marigold & Grey, which is below the furniture repair shop, fared “second worst” in the fire after the furniture repair store, she said.

After she was allowed into the building later in the day Thursday, she assessed the degree of water and smoke damage, and determined that she couldn’t operate her business there.

Wynne said a vacant space next door was suitable. She and her staff went into “triage” mode by temporarily setting up the business there.

Wynne said the recovery from the fire has been stressful because this is a high demand season for made-to-order gifts, but her staff of three full-time employees and five to 10 part-time employees has risen to the challenge. She said neighboring businesses have shown kindness, such as one person who dropped off a fan.

“It couldn’t come at a worse time,” she said of the fire, “but it’s also a way to see what you and your team are made of, and it’s been incredible to see how people have come together.”

Wynne said they are still determining how much can be salvaged, and when they will be able to move back into their space.

In an email to customers sent Monday, Wynne wrote that Marigold & Grey has temporarily suspended its online shop until the staff can replace inventory, but it hasn’t missed any delivery deadlines for custom projects.

“We will continue to focus heavily on honoring delivery deadlines to our existing clients and communicating along the way,” she wrote.

Dan Schere can be reached at