Thanksgiving fire destroys photography studio in St. Louis

Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 10:25 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A local business owner is forced to start over after a Thanksgiving morning fire destroyed her photo studio near Benton Park.

Jennifer Butler had her photography studio for nearly four years, recently expanding into a bigger space.

Around 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, she got an unexpected call from her landlord.

“The fire went up from the basement to the second story and I’m sandwiched right in the middle on the first floor so it came directly up and through the drywall,” Butler said.

Butler said the fire destroyed most of her studio.

“They told us it was basically a total loss between water, smoke and straight fire damage,” Butler said.

Between lighting equipment, wardrobe, backdrops and other destroyed items, Butler said the loss totals about $100,000.

However, the one silver lining is that all digital copies of the photos are safe.

“Thankfully all of my files and things are kept offsite,” Butler said. “I have them backed up in a security deposit box and in my home. I had grabbed my camera Wednesday night. Something told me to take it home.”

The COVID-19 pandemic hit her business hard. Butler said she was just starting to ramp back up to the 2019 status quo.

This fire brings Butler and her business back to square one.

“My husband does work and provide but at the same time, we have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter,” Butler said. “We’re having to spend all of our time here trying to clean up and salvage if there is anything left. So far, we haven’t really found much laying in the rubble that’s worth holding on to.”

Butler’s message to other small business owners is to make sure they are fully aware of how much they have covered with insurance.

“We relied on our insurance company to give us what we needed and it’s seeming that failed us,” Butler said. “While we do have insurance, it’s not covering nearly the amount we thought we had coverage for.”

Butler said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.