Five businesses at a Whittier strip mall were damaged in an overnight fire. An employee talks about the damage and what she had stored at the building. Jacob Rascon reports for Today in LA on Tuesday Oct. 1, 2013.
Five businesses were destroyed Tuesday morning in a Whittier strip mall fire that burned for more than three hours and caused a partial roof collapse.
The fire was reported at about 3 a.m. in the 15000 block of Leffingwell Road near La Mirada Boulevard. Fire department vehicles remained at the scene late Tuesday morning and a bulldozer was used to clear debris.
"It was like a big ball of orange," said resident Vince Torres. "I was amazed. I've never seen anything like that before."
Businesses in the strip mall include a laundry and pet store, which neighbors said was not occupied. Crews reported a partial roof collapse after the fire spread through the attic area.
"All five businesses have been severely damaged," said Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Scott Miller.
Crews used a bulldozer to clear debris, allowing fire investigators to access the site. A 6-foot tall pile of debris was left behind. Washing machines and drying units were left standing in the burned out structure.
The owner of Creative Ceiling Solutions, one of the damaged businesses, said most of the building was destroyed. The ceiling contractor's work is done off the site, but the building was used for storage.
"I'm glad it was just stuff -- it can all be replaced," owner Tracy Fish said.
One firefighter suffered a minor injury. Details regarding the cause of the fire were not immediately available.
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