Strip mall shuts down after fire guts clothing store

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SAN DIEGO -- A strip mall in the Talmadge neighborhood was forced to close Sunday after an early morning fire destroyed one of its businesses.

The fire broke out around 12:55 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they could see flames shooting through the roof of one clothing store located along the 4600 block of El Cajon Boulevard.

Crews knocked the fire down in about 22 minutes, according to Battalion Chief Rick Ballard of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

The clothing store's loss was estimated to be about $300,000, Ballard said. A couple of adjoining stores received some smoke and water damage, but the flames were contained to the clothing business.

Even so, business owners told FOX 5 the entire strip mall -- which includes restaurants and other food businesses -- was closed Sunday due to the electricity and water outages that resulted from the fire. Customers could be seen arriving at the shopping center, only to be turned away.

"It's a bummer. I don't know what to do now," said Fernando Benitez, who had arrived at the strip mall to buy food ingredients for his restaurant. "It's really important to other restaurants because there's stuff here that we all need -- there's stuff like noodles, tofu and stuff like that. It's just ... it's a bummer that the store burned up and there's no other location that might sell stuff like that."

Nobody was injured in the blaze, Ballard said. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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