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  • Randy Pench /

    Susan Crane surveys what's left of Party Concierge, the Sacramento party-planning business she and her husband, Lawrence, have run for years near Richards Boulevard and Dos Rios Street. A fire early Monday morning consumed the warehouse that the business had occupied.

  • Randy Pench /

    Lawrence Crane, left, carts a block of ice, destined to become a sculpture, out of the Sacramento warehouse where he and his wife, Susan, have run Party Concierge.

Couple vow to rebuild Sacramento party-planning business gutted in warehouse fire

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

Susan Crane was devastated that her party-planning business went up in flames early Monday morning, but she and her husband, Lawrence, were showing the resilience that party people can have.

"My husband is at Fry's buying new computers already," Susan Crane said later Monday, cracking a small smile. "We're jumping on it."

The Carmichael couple are wasting no time in rebuilding their business, Party Concierge.

Their business near Richards Boulevard and Dos Rios Street was destroyed when a 150,000-square-foot warehouse containing cat toys and insulation caught fire next door, sparking a five-alarm fire that spread to Party Concierge. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blaze.

Over 125 firefighters and 27 fire engines from three departments responded to the fire, which took about 10 hours to put out, Sacramento Fire Department Battalion Chief Marc Bentovoja said.

For the Cranes, it all started 20 years ago when balloon saleswoman Susan met ice sculptor Lawrence. They married and started their new business together.

The firm became a fixture of the Sacramento party scene. Clients varied from government agencies to hotel operators, but they all had one thing in common – they kept coming back.

That was no different Monday morning when some clients dropped by Party Concierge to show support for the Cranes. "We are so blessed," Susan Crane said.

By noon, it had already been a long day for the couple. It started shortly before 2 a.m. when the motion detectors at Party Concierge were tripped.

"I thought we were being robbed," she said, recalling her initial reaction.

That thought quickly changed when they drove past Cal Expo – "We knew it was a fire – the smoke was 100 feet in the air," she said.

Forty thousand square feet of props, ice sculptures, balloons and flowers were burned up in a matter of hours. The company estimates the damage at $5 million.

"We had some hand-painted backdrops, and now, all of it's gone," she said.

The only thing salvaged was a computer and two weeks' worth of customer orders.

Neither the fire nor the ensuing water has put a damper on the business. The Cranes were out Monday morning buying flowers for an event they had scheduled later that day.

"We're going to keep doing what we're doing," Susan Crane said.

She pointed to a nearby warehouse where she hopes to set up shop again. In their nine years at the current location, she said there were never any problems.

Ultimately, she said they would like to return to their old headquarters. "It's devastating, but we will rebuild."

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Read more articles by Richard Chang

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