Officials from the Working Wardrobes nonprofit Monday appealed to the public for donations to help the organization continue its mission following a four-alarm blaze that razed its headquarters in Irvine.
For the time being, Working Wardrobes staff say they have offices and a donation center thanks to the Goodwill organization, which offered up open space at 1501 E. St. Andrew Place in Santa Ana.
But the “devastating” blaze on Sunday has left the group’s 22,000-square-feet building in the 1800 block of Kettering Street a total loss, Working Wardrobes founder and chief executive Jerri Rosen said Monday.
Orange County Fire Authority investigators estimate the loss of the building at $10 million and $2 million for its contents, according to OCFA Capt. Tony Bommarito.
“After the devastating loss of our entire property yesterday we’re grateful to have a place to be” on Monday, Rosen said.
Starting Tuesday, Working Wardrobes will accept donations dropped off at the new location in Santa Ana from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.
“Writing a check is a wonderful thing to do for us” as well, Rosen said.
The organization needs volunteers as well as laptop computers, office supplies and clothes, Rosen said.
Firefighters who were dispatched at 5:50 a.m. Sunday to the blaze “were pushed back” from battling the flames from inside, Bommarito said.
“It was just too dangerous a fire to fight” inside the building, the captain said. “Fortunately, there were no injuries.”
It will take some time to establish a cause because the extent of damage to the building, Bommarito said.
Orange County Supervisors Andrew Do and Don Wagner also pledged their help at Monday’s news conference.
“I was devastated by the news,” Do said, adding he has long worked with the organization.
“We will work with our CEO to see if there is any way for the county to step up and provide space” to Working Wardrobes, Do said.
Wagner said he toured the Irvine facility when he was mayor and has even made donations to the nonprofit himself.
“What happened yesterday was just the loss of stuff, a lot of stuff, but just stuff,” Wagner said. “No one was injured, thanks to the OCFA.”
Working Wardrobes has been based in the building since 2016, spokesman Devon Poer said. “Everything has been destroyed.”
The destruction included a large warehouse filled with racks, bins and boxes with thousands of jackets, pants, shirts, blouses, ties, shoes, jewelry and accessories, Poer said. The organization also lost its career center where clients could access computers to research and apply for jobs on line, training rooms and the corporate office.
“We are determined to work with our employees, volunteers and the Orange County community to rebuild and continue to fulfill our purpose of helping men, women, young adults and veterans overcome difficult challenges so they can achieve the dignity of work,” he said.
Financial donations can be made at workingwardrobes.org/donate-money/ and people who want to help set up temporary quarters can contact KathiS@workingwardrobes.org or call 714-210-2460.
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