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Devon Avenue on the Rebound

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Merchants have begun going back to work along a stretch of Devon Avenue on Chicago’s far north side. The block was devastated by a Thanksgiving Day fire.

Most of the shops still smell of smoke--a reminder of the blaze that displaced at least 15 businesses and shocked this largely South Asian immigrant neighborhood.

But six weeks later, the block is coming to life again. More than half the businesses have returned. Many, like Hamid Merza’s Chandni Boutique, were damaged by smoke and water from the hoses.

He says, “We wash everything, and use some perfumes. You feel the smell. So now is it just like it was before the fire? Yeah, Yeah. Same. People are coming again.”

The building housing Sabri Nehari restaurant, an anchor of Devon Avenue, was destroyed. The restaurant moved across the street, and reopened December 23.

A Chicago Fire Department spokesman says inspectors closed their investigation last month, unable to find the fire’s cause.

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