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West Berkeley $5 Million fire but Import Tile Open for business Today

Evelyn Larsen
Peggy Reskin

If you know Bill De Carion and Evelyn Larsen, it will not surprise you that Import Tile is open today for business in spite of the $5 Million fire in West Berkeley 36 hours ago. 40 feet of flame at one point, caused the destruction of much of the West Berkeley Second Street business collective. Import Tile, The Wooden Duck and Urban Furniture, as well as other businesses within the conclave were damaged by the intense and dramatic fire. Bill De Carion, Founder of Import Tile and his wife Evelyn Larsen are outstanding Berkeley community leaders and support their neighbors and friends in Berkeley, and have done so for many years. Bill started his business in the early 70's leaving behind his work in plumbing, to a future in tile. He fell in love with tile and Import Tile is known for its reservoir of artistic and extraordinary selection of tile. Import Tile also is unique in their response and service to businesses, artists and homeowners seeking to improve their homes. Bill's attention on a project is well known by friends who have felt his particular interest in their getting the benefit of the extensive array of tiles that he selects each year in an annual trip to Italy.

Friends were very happy when Bill met Evelyn Larsen over 15 years ago and their marriage is marked by the many investments they have in their community. Evelyn has been a dance teacher and leader at the BerkeleyYMCA for over twenty years. You may have seen her as she leads the Solano Stroll with members of her classes at the Y every September at the Solano Stroll. Evelyn also sings in the choir at St. Marks Episcopal Church, and is just as avid a supporter of St. Marks as she is the Berkeley Y. She is a big supporter, particularly in raising funds that allow inclusion of more people to benefit from the Y and on the trips the choir takes to England.

The couple have a rich array of friendships and organizations that they support with love and care. So no surprise, that as they stood outside the flames of Import Tile as the warehouse burned, they expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the 70 firefighters from the Berkeley Fire Department that began at 7:54 p.m. and was contained by 1 a.m. Sunday morning this past weekend. Concerned for the other owners and tenants and how they were faring, Bill's presence at the time of the fire was a comfort to many of the artisan collective owners on Second Street in WEst Berkeley. Josh Goldberg, as well as Gus Cancro's Blocka Wood, Corey Nesbitt's metal shop, Alec Gordon's Overgrown Woodworks and Naomi Design Advocates-all shared the warehouse facility with Import Tile and The Wooden Duck.

But today and all days, Import Tile is open and Bill and Evelyn are at work to start bringing in more tile to replace those damaged by the fire, but want people to know that the doors are open and business is happening. They are optimistic about the repairs that will need to be done in some sections of the Warehouse facilities, and hopeful to have the cost of the fire NOT extend to customers being unaware that they are not only still in business, but Import Tile opened on time this morning, the day after the fire.

Giving her dance class at the Berkeley YMCA today, Evelyn through stretches and dance moves expressed her gratitude for all the friends and family who have shown up over the past days to be of help. Today, and every day for Bill and Evelyn, Import Tile is open and ready for business, and they are ready to serve their community.

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