A Cerritos shopping center ravaged by fire early Sunday has been nearly destroyed, Los Angeles County firefighters told NBC LA.
The blaze, at the Fountain Plaza Mall at South Street and Gridley Road, started in a two-story Chinese restaurant at the strip mall, Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mark Savage said. Firefighters were called at about 2 a.m. - too late to save the building, Savage said.
"It started collapsing when we were here so we had to pull out," he said.
The flames jumped from the restaurant and raced through ten businesses on the top floor.
Firefighters were hindered in their efforts to fight the fire because the building was collapsing. They were still at the scene well into the morning on Sunday, fighting remaining hot spots, Savage said.
"This building is pretty much destroyed," Savage said. "The restaurant is all fallen over. The facades have come down."
It was still too dangerous for investigators to go to in see how the three-alarm fire started, he said.
Businesses at the mall included the restaurant, a driving school, a nail salon and an accounting office, Savage said. Damages were estimated at $5.5 million - $4 million for the building and $1.5 million for its contents, he said.
There were no injuries.