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Durham barbershop owner ready to rebuild after fire

Samuel Jenkins turned from a life on the streets to become a business owner. Then, he fought to turn around his east Durham neighborhood. Now, he must start over again: rebuilding his barbershop after a devastating electrical fire.

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DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham small business owner noted for fighting crime and revitalizing his neighborhood faces a new challenge: rebuilding his barbershop after a devastating electrical fire.

Samuel Jenkins, owner of Samuel and Sons Barber Shop, got a call that disrupted his laid-back routine this Sunday morning.

"Someone called me and said, 'Your barbershop is on fire.' I'm like, 'Stop joking,'" Jenkins said.

Firefighters said flames were pouring from the Angier Avenue building Jenkins owns when they arrived around 6 a.m. Twenty-seven firefighters from four stations brought the fire under control within 15 minutes.

The damage, though, was already done: heavy fire damage to Triangle Trophy, whose owner rented space from Jenkins, and smoke and water damage to the barbershop.

Jenkins said firefighters told him that an accidental electrical fire started in Triangle Trophy, next door to his barbershop.

"I got a brick wall in between mine, so it came over the roof," he said.

The only items worth saving that he found were pictures of friends and mementos that hung on the wall – including a newspaper article that praised Jenkins as a community "rebuilder."

Since buying the building on Angier Avenue seven years ago, Jenkins has gotten credit for reaching out to both city leaders and neighbors to take back the streets from the drugs, gangs and prostitutes in east Durham.

"You embrace them and say, 'You ain't got to live that way,'" he said.

Jenkins said that he once lived on the street as well, but turned his life around and became a business owner.

What's important is how you respond to adversity, like the fire, he said.

"I can't complain about the fire. I can't change the fact that it's still going to be burnt down. What I can do is change how I feel about it," he said.

Jenkins wasted no time turning that upbeat, determined attitude into action. "When the last fire truck was pulling out, I was pulling into Lowe's," he said.

"It's time to clean up, time to restart. And that's what I'm going to do."


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