NORTH HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The owner of a beloved bookstore in North Hollywood received an outpouring of support from customers and neighbors in the last few days. The future of The Iliad Bookshop was in jeopardy following a Thursday night fire.
"I'm feeling better about it today," owner Dan Weinstein told Eyewitness News Monday afternoon. "The smell, you can still smell it in the room here a little bit. But hopefully it didn't ruin the books."
While the flames didn't go past the metal door, the smoke that penetrated the books' pages threatened to make them unsellable.
"Luckily, the fire department blew out what they could that night," Weinstein said. "They spent a good hour with the blowers on, so that really saved the inventory, I think."
After a witness called in, firefighters found a stack of books ablaze outside and put the fire out, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Weinstein regularly leaves out the stack of books to give away.
"They told me had they not been here when they were, if it had been just a few minutes later, the whole place would have been engulfed," he said. "So, I feel so blessed."
Weinstein, who opened the bookstore more than 30 years ago, is expressing deep gratitude for those who donated to his business, dropped off kind notes, and even cat food for his pets.
"It's been five times what we've asked for, what they've contributed. It's just an outpouring," he said. "I feel really loved by the community. So, I don't really know why anyone would do this."
When he first opened shop in the late '80s, he was inspired to name it "Iliad" because there was an "Odyssey" video store nearby. He said flyers were posted on the exterior of his business the night of the fire.
"It's nothing really threatening, but I think somebody wanted their agenda put out there, basic conspiracies I think it is," he said.
Right now, Weinstein does not believe he was targeted over his identity. He does question whether this could be connected to a series of arson fires in North Hollywood. Two people were detained and one person was arrested and charged in connection to those cases in late October. According to county records, the suspect remains in custody. For now, Weinstein is grateful his two cats who were inside at the time of the fire are okay.
His love for literature runs in the family. Weinstein's relatives owned bookstores in Southern California since the 70's, a tradition he's grateful to carry on.
"I can't even express how grateful I am that people have supported me the way they have, both their good wishes and donations and book donations," he said. "Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you so much."