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JCPenney at Westfield Brandon to reopen Monday

After cleaning up from a Dec. 21 electrical fire that caused $1 million in damage, the JCPenney at Westfield Brandon will reopen at 10 a.m. Monday.

"The structure is totally fine," said store leader Connie Lant. "We've had a company in here cleaning from top to bottom so there is no hint of odor."

The fire primarily damaged merchandise, which Lant said was completely removed. That will result in lower-than-normal inventory levels as the store begins to restock shelves. New shipments of clothing will feature spring wardrobes, so don't expect to find any winter wear.

Shoppers will find a new carpet pattern covering a third of the first floor, some fresh paint, a redesigned home department and expanded bath and bedding sections.

"We took advantage of the downtime to make it a little more customer-friendly," Lant said.

Lant, who has been at the Brandon store for 5 ½ years, said she has never heard of the company dealing with a fire in the 35 years she has worked for J.C. Penney.

"It's a very rare situation for sure," she said.

The fire started on a first-floor wall at about 11:30 p.m. Dec. 21, 30 minutes before the end of an extended holiday shopping day. Employees and customers were able to get out and report the fire. Since the doors were unlocked, firefighters were able to get inside faster and without further damaging the building, containing the fire to the 148,000-square-foot store.

There were no injuries.

"We are so fortunate that it happened late at night when there were not that many customers and associates in the building," Lant said.

Eric Vician can be reached at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

JCPenney at Westfield Brandon to reopen Monday 01/10/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 10, 2014 2:53pm]
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