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Kombucha business trying to recover after massive warehouse fire

Olympia warehouse fire, July 5, 2016

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- An Olympia business is trying to get back on its feet after a massive fire Tuesday morning that destroyed a 100-year-old warehouse.

Magic Kombucha was one of three businesses impacted by the fire. Kombucha is a non-alcoholic, fermented green tea, the business' owner said. It takes about 4 months to make and properly ripen.

The warehouse was Rachel Carns' livelihood. All that's left of it is a burned-out shell that's surrounded by a chain-link fence.

The fire destroyed about $175,000 dollars worth of Magic Kombucha's inventory, Carns said. Lots of equipment was also lost. The warehouse was where the kombucha was brewed and shipped.

"It was stacked floor to ceiling with boxes of kombucha with a little aisle to get through," Carns said. "We brewed in small batches in 5-gallon tubs and each tub had a name. People would name them after their pets or friends or relatives or celebrities."

The business expanded a few months back, Carns said. Its distributor was in the process of getting Magic Kombucha into 30 more stores that are part of a national grocery chain, she added.

The company was running on an outdated insurance policy that's capped at $77,000, which is not a lot of money to cover things after the fire like employee wages, a new space, and Rachel's living expenses, she said.

"I started from scratch 10 years ago. I can do it again," Carns said. "One of my main concerns right now is the employees trying to take care of them over the next few months."

Investigators haven't determined a cause of the fire. They're trying to figure out if a 22-year-old arson suspect currently behind bars is connected to the fire, along with several others in the Olympia area. He was caught on video minutes before a smaller fire was set at a former church on Monday, police said.

Carns said her focus right now is on moving forward.

"It's all a big question mark at this point," Carns said. "Hopefully we'll able to get bigger. Hopefully it won't take 10 years. And you know, we can take a more direct path back to where we're at."

A YouCaring page has been set up to help the business with expenses. Click here to make a donation.

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