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BRIDES-TO-BE DEVASTATED AS BRIDAL SHOP BLAZE SENDS PREPARATIONS FOR WEDDINGS UP IN SMOKE

and the hopes they symbolized -- turned to ashes early today when a three-alarm fire destroyed It's Your Day bridal shop on Lake Avenue in Blasdell.

Not since Salvatore's Italian Gardens restaurant burned on Nov. 22, 1994, has a fire caused so much potential ruin for upcoming wedding days in Western New York, some as soon as Saturday.

Joyce Egan, the shop's owner, arrived at the scene at about 1:30 a.m. and passed out at the sight of smoke and flames. Word of the calamity spread quickly among brides-to-be.

"Some brides showed up crying, some showed up screaming," said Bob Palmer Jr., chief of Blasdell Volunteer Fire Company.

The cause of the $300,000 fire in the two-story wood and masonry building remains under investigation, according to Palmer, who said the fire was reported at 1:06 a.m.

But perhaps the most devastated of all was Mrs. Egan.

"My head is splitting. I can't even get my thoughts together," the bridal shop owner of 10 1/2 years said this morning. "It's not like when Salvatore's burned down and people had weddings the next day. You can get food and go to another place, but these specially made dresses are the dreams of the brides who look beautiful in them."

Lori Engelhardt knows exactly what Mrs. Egan means.

Miss Engelhardt, of West Seneca, was supposed to pick up her wedding dress today for her wedding Saturday.

Now, Robert Oliver, her fiance, is working the telephone trying to find a sympathetic bridal shop to outfit his fiancee for their special day.

"The only thing worse that could happen is that the hall where we are having our reception would burn down," Oliver said. "Lori is very devastated. She doesn't want to talk."

And she is not the only one in the predicament.

"Another woman was supposed to pick up her wedding gown Thursday for her wedding on Saturday, but she didn't come in, and she's supposed to come by this afternoon," Mrs. Egan said.

Customers can call Richard Smith of Sloan Photo Studio in Depew at 681-3003 to reach Mrs. Egan. Smith planned to hold a news conference late today to provide wedding parties with further information.

Salvatore's was rebuilt in four months, and Mrs. Egan is hoping for a miracle, although she is uncertain if she will ever reopen her business.

"We'll be calling other bridal shops and dress manufacturers, and if there are dresses available we will get them. Miracles can happen," she said.

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