A jinxed city centre store hit by a weekend blaze could re-open its doors as early as Thursday.
But mystery still surrounds the cause of the fire which started underneath a rear door and severely damaged a stairwell.
Staff at PC Carpets and Beds, housed in the former Woolwich Bank building in Preston, have worked round the clock since Saturday evening to get the smoke-logged premises ready to resume trading within four days.
“Everyone has been brilliant,” said general manager John Richardson.
“And the support we have had from the public of Preston and from well-wishers has been overwhelming.
“The fire broke out at around 6.20pm on Saturday, just 80 minutes after the store had closed for the day.”
It was heartbreaking for staff who were involved in another major clean-up when burst pipes flooded the building shortly after the store opened in January 2011.
John said: “We’d only just refurbished the place when that happened, so we had to start again from scratch.
“And there had been another flood prior to that when the building was empty.
“So you could say it’s had an unlucky run.
“But, to be fair, we have been incredibly fortunate this time because the fire doors have done a fantastic job keeping the damage limited to the stairs at the back.
“There is a smell of smoke throughout the rest of the building. The blaze was started by something under the door, although we don’t believe it was deliberate.
“Something like a cigarette end could have rolled under and started it off.”
The century-old Grade II listed property, previously owned by Barclays Bank, was sold in 2008 for £730,000.