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Fire protection increased after Whiskey Row blaze

PRESCOTT -- One year after three businesses on Prescott's famed Whiskey Row were destroyed by a fire, one has reopened and fire protection has been improved in the surrounding area to protect businesses against future blazes.

Prescott Fire Division Chief Don Devendorf told the Prescott Daily Courier that fire sprinklers and alarms were installed in several historic downtown buildings after the fire, bringing them up to current codes.

The fire on May 8, 2012, was caused by an appliance malfunction in the back kitchen of a restaurant.

Workers razed the burned-out building, and the Prescott Preservation Commission approved a new architectural design in late July.

The 100 block of South Montezuma Street in downtown Prescott is an historic strip of saloons, restaurants and shops. It's been called Whisky Row since before the turn of the century, when more than 40 saloons lined the street. In 1901, the entire block of Whiskey Row was destroyed by a fire.

The 2012 fire destroyed Pearl's Place, the Prescott Food Store and the Bird Cage Saloon.

Pearl's Place Cafe didn't have insurance, but the Bird Cage, the Prescott Food Store and the building owner did, Devendorf said.

A fundraiser brought in $86,000 that was split among owners of the three destroyed businesses.

The money was used to renovate the Bird Cage and help pay off debt from Pearl's Place Cafe. Owners said they gave a portion of the benefit money to their 10 employees, and other benefits were organized to help the employees.

While Pearl's Place and the Prescott Food Store haven't returned to Whiskey Row, the Bird Cage raised its sign March 25, five doors south of its original location.

Kishore Patel of Prescott Food Store said he was looking at options to reopen.

The future of the empty lot where the Bird Cage once stood remains unclear.

"I know people wonder when we're going to do more with the building that was burned out," said Howard Hinson, owner of the surviving building and the one that was destroyed. "We're going to turn our attention to that this summer and see what we can put up that will benefit this community."

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