The owner of the Iliad Bookstore in North Hollywood says at first he thought anti-Semitism might be behind the fiery attack, but now he’s not so sure.
Whatever the cause, people have generously stepped up to help.
For 35 years, Iliad Books has served bibliophiles throughout Southern California.
Among them, Christa Escarzaga, her daughter Holland and her husband Mike are regular Orange County fans who make the trip.
âPeople who really love books? They will they will give,â Christa said.
And they did it far beyond owner Dan Weinstein’s expectations.
His Go Fund Me page, with an initial goal of five thousand dollars, has already raised over $33,000.
Writers and celebrities, like comedian Patton Oswalt, are leading the charge on social media.
“I can’t tell you how hot my heart is from all this outpouring,” said Dan Weinstein, owner of Iliad Bookstore.
Last Thursday evening around 11:30 p.m., a neighbor called Dan at home. “Your store is on fire,” they said.
“The 25 minutes it took to get here was probably the longest 25 minutes of my life,” Weinstein said.
Fortunately, the flames did not penetrate the front door and two cats inside, Apollo and Zeus, were not injured.
Photos of the aftermath showed a stack of burnt books.
For years Dan left boxes of it, right outside the door, free to take away. They were still on the side, but not that night.
The arsonist took books and piled them in front of the door, igniting the mini-hell that followed.
The City of Los Angeles Fire confirmed that “no arson investigation has been initiated”. For now, the fire that could have destroyed Dan’s life’s work is being called a “garbage fire.”
A frustrating statement for Dan, who also failed to get the Los Angeles Police Department to investigate.
He even showed them strange flyers, filled with rants and conspiracy theories, posted near the entrance that night. “I tried to file a report and didn’t get very far,” Weinstein said.
Still, for what it doesn’t get from law enforcement, it certainly gets longtime Iliad fans.
Some bought extra books, while others donated online, and all were relieved that this historic store was still standing.
Dan says he’ll use some of these generous donations to bolster security here. An even stronger door and surveillance cameras, just to start.
And those books that he used to leave outside are now going to be locked inside every night.