Feds investigate off-roading shop’s 2nd fire this year

SAN DIEGO -- The best fire investigators in the country pulled into San Diego Friday after a warehouse in Kearny Mesa caught fire twice in less than six months.

The team, made up of chemists and engineers, works for the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to determine how and where a fire started.

"Thank God we have the 24 ATF people on site," said Nate Mullen, who co-owns Off Road Warehouse off Balboa Avenue. He says he welcomes the investigation and wants answers after the shop, which specializes in jeep and truck parts, suddenly caught fire around 1 a.m. Thursday morning.

The large shop burned quickly and caused $3.5 million in damages. It was the second costly blaze at the shop in five months.

"It's great because they are going to work nonstop through the weekend, 24/7," Mullen said. "This is a big deal. However it may have started, it’s a big deal.”

In the meantime, neighboring shops have had to close their doors to business. "Oh yeah, we are basically out of business right now because we can’t access our bay doors," said Ted Nguyen, who works at Advanced Automotive nearby. "They won’t allow us any access to the driveway where we would pull our cars in.”

It's unclear how long business could remain shut down. Mullen has been told that the investigation could take weeks.

The ATF will meet Friday evening before starting their investigation on site Saturday morning.

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