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West Allis hobby store questions rebuilding after fire

Cause of fire still under investigation

 Happy Hobby, seen Jan. 2 after it was gutted by a New Year’s Eve fire, remains closed, with its future in doubt.

Happy Hobby, seen Jan. 2 after it was gutted by a New Year’s Eve fire, remains closed, with its future in doubt. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Jan. 8, 2013

West Allis - Whether owners will rebuild the Happy Hobby at 8021 W. National Ave, which was destroyed in a New Year's Eve fire, is still a question this week, said Dennis Jones, vice president of the company founded by his father.

A lot of collectibles were destroyed in the fire, Jones said, including some radio-controlled boats that were in an international competition in Italy.

"It was a sad thing," he said of the blaze that left the one-story building a total loss.

Firefighters called at about 9:45 p.m. Dec. 31 arrived to find flames bursting out the front display windows, said Fire Department Lieutenant Jay Scharfenberg.

Firefighters initially went into the building to extinguish the fire, but had to be pulled out when the structure became unstable, he said.

The loss is estimated at $160,000 for the building and probably $300,000, conservatively, for the contents. It was the biggest fire loss in terms of property in 2012, Scharfenberg said.

The cause is still under investigation. Local fire officials are being assisted by the state fire marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which normally helps in large fires, Scharfenberg said.

Happy Hobby was at West National Avenue for about 24 years, Jones said. It was the third Happy Hobby store the company owned. The first opened at 78th and Burleigh in Milwaukee in 1974 and the second at 48th and Bradley soon after. That moved to another location on Bradley Road before opening in its current location at 76th and Good Hope Road. The company also owns a craft store called Marasco's and Rose's Doll House, both at about 127th and Capitol Drive in Brookfield.

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