Strip mall burns
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Mar 27, 2014 | 10157 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fire burns businesses
Firefighters get the ladder on Truck 91 ready as heavy smoke and flames billow from the roof of businesses in the McKinley Village Shopping Center on Wednesday afternoon.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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A fire of unknown origin caused substantial damage to the northern portion of a strip mall on the 2300 block of Tracy Boulevard on Wednesday afternoon.

The fire caused the most damage to suites A and B in the part of McKinley Village Shopping Center at 2321 Tracy Blvd., according to Division Chief Steve Hanlon of the Tracy fire department. One suite was vacant and the other was occupied by a trucking company.

In addition to the fire damage, several businesses were also displaced by smoke and water damage, including Sonia’s Restaurant in Suite C and Discount Liquor.

Firefighters responded after receiving a call about smoke coming from the strip mall roof at 3:29 p.m., Hanlon said. When they arrived, they saw thick smoke filling the front of the businesses and flames shooting 20 feet into the air above the strip mall.

Hanlon said he called for two alarms, which brought 16 firefighters, three division chiefs and three special assignment captains to the scene.

Their initial efforts were hindered because a hydrant near the northern entrance of the complex was not working.

With the help of Tracy Police Department, firefighters closed Grant Line Road between Tracy Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard and ran a large hose into the shopping center across the street.

Hanlon said firefighters attacked the fire from within the complex while Ladder Company 91 cut two large trenches into the roof to try to isolate the flames.

No injuries were reported, and the fire was controlled by 4:27 p.m.

Shopping center business owners said they were scared after seeing the smoke and flames.

“It was full of smoke and the firefighters told us to get out of the building,” Discount Liquor owner Parmay Atwal said. “It was spreading so quickly. I was shaking.”

The owner of Sonia’s Restaurant, Yordan Lee, said a worker from a nearby truck-driving academy ran into the restaurant to warn her and her employees.

“She said, ‘I smell smoke,’ and we looked everywhere to see, but it wasn’t in our restaurant,” Lee said. “There was a strong smell (of smoke) outside and we told the customers to run out. The smoke was overpowering and we saw the roof engulfed.”

Deborah Pierotti, who owns Black Ops Airsoft in the southern portion of the shopping center, said she saw flames coming out of an electrical box in the back of Suite A when she went to throw some trash into her dumpster.

“The flames were coming out of the hood and instantly the whole entire roof was on fire,” she said. “I know people in that part of the center, so I started texting everybody, ‘The building is on fire.’ It was scary.”

Hanlon said Wednesday afternoon that the fire was still under investigation and it was too soon to estimate the cost of the damage to the complex.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or

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