Fire Destroys Torrance Big 5

A three-alarm fire destroyed a Big 5 store in Torrance Thursday night, but no one was injured.

The blaze inside the sports equipment, clothing and shoe store was reported at 8:18 p.m., according to Torrance Fire Department Capt. Robert Millea.

The flames burned through the roof of the building at 18308 Hawthorne Blvd., about one block south of the South Bay Galleria, in the first 10 minutes firefighters were at the scene, Millea said.

Firefighters had to force their way into the building because the store was closed.

The Torrance Fire Department was forced to call a third alarm because of the size and the intensity of the blaze, Millea said.

The store facade collapsed as firefighters battled the blaze.

Joseph Valdez, a witness, said he smelled the smoke from his house and called 911.

"Started walking down the alley towards Big 5 and I smelled a lot more smoke. And when I looked at the roof I saw a lot of black smoke coming from the roof. That's when I called 911," he said.

Kim Butcher, a nearby resident, said she was told to evacuate from her home.

A total of 44 firefighters were dispatched from the Torrance Fire Department, Millea said. Redondo Beach also sent four firefighters to the scene. The fire was finally knocked down about 8:50 p.m. Millea added.

Hawthorne Boulevard and Ashley Avenue were closed between 182nd and 186th streets as firefighters battled the blaze, police said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Robert Kovacik and City News Service contributed to this report.

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