Arson investigators probe cause of early morning fire at El Cajon strip mall
Firefighters battled a blaze in a strip mall in El Cajon early Sunday morning that was complicated by an exterior gas leak.
The fire was reported at about 4:30 a.m. at the building on Main Street near South Mollison Avenue. When the first engine arrived, firefighters found a large fire in pallets and cardboard boxes piled up outside the rear of the building that had spread to the structure.
Firefighters contained the blaze to one of the three spaces in the strip mall. It was being used as a storage site for Main Street Liquor Store — the building’s main occupant — and contained liquor, boxes and other supplies, said Sam Rihan, a battalion chief for Heartland Fire & Rescue. Firefighters from San Miguel Fire & Rescue and the Santee Fire Department also responded.
An adjacent jewelry store and Main Street Liquor’s core retail shop in the building escaped fire damage, Rihan said. But fire crews did enter the structure to make sure the blaze hadn’t spread through the common attic.
The damage estimate is not yet known. The sheriff’s bomb/arson unit and El Cajon police are investigating the cause of the fire.
It took about 35 minutes to extinguish the blaze, Rihan said Crews remained on the scene for several more hours to mop up and monitor a gas line leak, which was shut off by San Diego Gas & Electric. The building had a sprinkler system, and no injuries were reported.