Rebecca and David Dotson were at a comic book convention in Seattle when the phone call came in.
It was a representative from their alarm monitoring company, informing Rebecca Dotson someone had burglarized their store, Hero Support in Washougal.
However, it was not a burglar. A firefighter with the Camas-Washougal Fire Department had to break into a wall in an effort to contain a fire that started on the front porch of the business.
“That was a pretty sleepless night,” said Dotson, co-owner of the comic book store. “We couldn’t even come back until the following evening because we were carpooling for Comicon in Seattle and didn’t want to leave the other people up there.”
The March 28 fire was limited to the exterior, although there is smoke damage inside as well. Chief Nick Swinhart estimates damages at $5,000. The cause of the fire is a discarded cigarette butt that was left burning on the front porch.
“There was a lot of smoke and soot in here,” Dotson said. “Thankfully we had an employee and some friends there to get it under control.”
She debated closing the business the next day, but that Saturday a regular Pokemon tournament was scheduled, so the business remained open during the cleanup.
“We have not had to close at all yet,” Dotson said. “But I think that people believe we are closed due to the fire. Business has definitely been down.”
To help pay for the expense of repairs, their daughter, Ryssa, created a GoFundMe account to raise donations. The Dotsons are not using their insurance to pay for repairs due to a high deductible and the possibility of having their coverage dropped, which would force them to close their business.
“We are just fixing things as we can afford to do so,” Dotson said. “Our big goal is to get this done by Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 2.”
The free event will include beverages by Doomsday Brewing, Outlaw Coffee, and vendors such as Crossfit North Pacific and local artists.
The Dotsons have owned Hero Support for three years and have renovated the business during that time, including a 1,200 square foot addition. The shop has gaming cards, comic books and supplies, role playing books and Game Boy systems. A 650-square foot room has arcade games and seating for 45 people at weekly Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Magic: The Gathering competitions.
“Any money that is donated will be going back into the store in one way or another,” Dotson said. “Things are slowly starting to come back together.”
Hero Support will remain open during repairs unless otherwise noted. It is located at 823 “E” St, Washougal. Operating hours are 1 to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
To donate, visit http://www.gofundme.com/saveherosupport.