Nick Lang was sleeping early Saturday morning when his girlfriend Rachel Shuman woke him up.
“She woke me up because she thought fire department was doing drills. As soon as she opened the window, smoke came pouring in,” Lang said.
The couple live with their five dogs in the apartment above the Hard Rock Tattoo shop on Sacramento Street in downtown Lodi. Unbeknownst to them, a fire had broken out in the vacant building next door.
A fireman saw Rachel looking out the window and told her to get out immediately, Lang said. They grabbed what they could, including their dogs.
The Lodi Fire Department was responding to a three-alarm fire that had broken out in a vacant building next door on North Sacramento Street.
“It was getting hard to breathe, I had to make several trips to get the dogs, and I tried to grab anything else of immediate value.”
He said he was trying to be as calm as possible as he kept going back for their dogs.
Lang said that even though they lost everything, he is thankful they both have their lives.
“Material things can be replaced,” he said.
Lang is also the manager at the Hard Rock Tattoo.
“Not only did I lose my apartment, I also lost my job and my income,” he said.
He said when he came around the front of the building to where the tattoo shop is, there were flames everywhere. He said he tried to run into the shop to grab a couple of things he knew were important to his boss, but the firefighters told him to get out.
Lang is very grateful for the work of the Lodi Fire Department on Saturday morning.
“They ended up being super helpful and I am super grateful to them,” he said. “They brought out the majority of the tattoo stuff, they tried to salvage everything they could.”
But he said nothing was able to be salvaged from their apartment.
“We lost everything.”
The American Red Cross was on site Saturday, and provided the couple with a voucher for a night’s hotel room, and a discount for other nights, as well as a card with a couple of hundred dollars on it.
Rachel’s sister Emily has set up a GoFundMe account for her sister and her boyfriend.
“Anybody that can do anything, it’s greatly appreciated,” Lang said. “We’re both in a state of shock. Literally everything is in there.”
Lang said any help would be appreciated.
“Anything they can do, even prayers,” he said.
“I have never been in a situation as devastating as this. It literally just happened,” he said. “Everything is wiped out and gone. You’re left with nothing . It’s just really devastating.”
Trang and Bao Nguyen, husband and wife co-owners of Hard Luck Tattoo, carried out some artwork Saturday, after the fire caused extensive damage to their tattoo shop. Earlier they, along with staff, were able to recover some artwork, tattooing sanitary supplies, books, and awards from their damaged shop.
Trang Nguyen said there is extensive water damage to their tattoo shop, and the ceiling was collapsed in places. They lost a lot of valuable books with artwork from all around the world, which they use as a resource for their own work.
“So it’s not just something you can restore by going to Smart N’ Final. It’s books that are from Japan, that are from Greece, Italy, from all over the world, that we use as resource to bring art to life and to help heal and to help regenerate humans beings, regenerate their souls, to help do something for them. We feel like in this fire we lost everything,” she said.
“It’s a loss not just for us, but for the community,”
The couple has owned their business for 21 years.
She said it’s not only the irreplaceable books that are lost, but with them a lot of effort they put into serving their community. She said her husband has traveled abroad to Ireland, to Paris, for his work.
“And we take all of that experience and we bring it back to our town. We’re not going to say this is over, it’s the beginning of something better. It’s going to take a long time to recover from this, but it’s not not something we’re going to throw away overnight.”
City of Lodi Community Development Director John Della Monica was on scene Saturday afternoon, assessing the damage.
He said 9 N. Sacramento St had sustained the most damage, adding that they thought it was the source of the fire. Damage from the fire may have jeopardized the structure.
“It burned pretty well through, so there is not much roof structure left holding the building together. It’s putting a lot of pressure (on adjacent buildings) which is showing fatigue in the parapet, which is more likely going to cause a structural failure there,” Della Monica said.
He was unsure what damage the buildings to the north of the building had sustained. He said the city is waiting for a formal report from the fire department.
Shane Langone, Lodi Fire Department Battalion Chief, said the cause of fire was determined to be unknown.
“There was too much damage, and it’s too dangerous to enter the building,” he said.
If you want to help:
GoFundMe for Rachel Shuman and Nick Lang: https://gf.me/u/yijvxr
GoFundMe for Trang and Bao Nguyen, owners of Hard Luck Tattoo: https://gf.me/u/yijn4x