Arson suspected in strip mall fire

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VISTA, Calif. — A two-alarm blaze that caused about $100,000 in damage to a vacant business and a neighboring office in a Vista strip mall may have been intentionally set, authorities said Wednesday.

A witness told sheriff’s investigators a man wearing an oversized black T-shirt and jeans was standing in front of the building at 631 S. Santa Fe Avenue shortly before it went up in flames around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Dwain Washington.

Firefighters from Vista, Oceanside, San Marcos and Carlsbad had the blaze at the 1,600-square-foot office building contained in about 20 minutes, according to Deputy Chief Ned Vander Pol of the Vista Fire Department.

Washington said firefighters who extinguished the blaze were treating its cause as arson.

The sheriff’s Bomb/Arson Unit was summoned, but had yet to determine the exact cause as of this morning, Vander Pol said.

Anyone with information about the fire was asked to call the sheriff’s department at 858-565-5200, or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.