Fire tears through Philadelphia strip mall

October 17, 2011 2:39:19 PM PDT
A fast moving multi-alarm fire damaged at least five stores in a strip mall in Philadelphia's Andorra neighborhood.

The fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. Monday on the 8900 block of Ridge Avenue.

The intense flames shot through the dark sky, so bright they woke up neighbors.

"I called 911 then looked across the street," said Richard Arbasak. "Flames must have been shooting 60 feet in the air."

Heavy flames ripped through the Veterans Bingo Hall, Pinki's Nail Salon and Lucky Star Chinese and Japanese Restaurant.

Smo-Kings Cigar Shop sustained heavy damage as firefighters worked to?contain the blaze?before it spread to?Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes.

Employees say damage at Sherwin-Williams was relatively minor in comparison, and are thankful given the contents of the store.

"If it would have got here it would have been much worse," said Bob Morris of Sherwin-Williams. "Thankfully they stopped it before it got here. It's really devastating."

The fire was placed under control at 4:51 a.m., but the damage was already done.

"Our source of income right there," said Ashley Lutz, who works at the Veterans Bingo Hall. "All of us lost or jobs right now."

"I'm sad I'm thinking about all the people gathered here that lost their livelihood, a lot of friends that gathered here to play bingo and relax," said Claire Dugan. "We don't have that anymore."

Two firefighters suffered injuries battling that blaze.

The fire marshal along with the ATF were on scene after the blaze as the investigation continues.

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