The Long Road Back: Lessons from a Disaster

Barry DiNola was working in the polishing room when his wife, Mary Jane, suddenly walked in. “Are you burning something?” she asked. Alarmed, the owner of Yardley Jewelers in Yardley, Pa., shouted for an employee to check the basement. There, curtains of smoke hung suspended in mid-air. After alerting upstairs tenants and calling 911, DiNola, his wife, and an employee grabbed what they could and fled. The fire at Yardley Jewelers started late on a Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 1, 1997. The blaze, which began with a carelessly extinguished cigarette, crept through the walls of the 128-year-old building, growing into an inferno as it reached the second-floor apartments. All through the evening, DiNola and a crowd of onlookers stood in the glare, watching the fire department struggle to contain it. By 11 p.m., fire extinguished, firefighters permitted DiNola, his wife, fellow jeweler an
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