Fire Guts Businesses at Strip Mall in Boyle Heights

A fire fueled by a gas leak heavily damaged several businesses at a strip mall in Boyle Heights early Friday morning, fire officials said.

The fire was reported around 2 a.m. in the 2100 block of Whittier Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Firefighters reported there was a gas leak at a vacant laundromat in the strip mall, where it is believed the fire may have started.

"Apparently, a gas line had been broken inside, was fueling this fire, and based on the type of building that we had, the way that it collapsed, the incident commander chose to have all firefighters exit the building and go into a defensive posture," said LAFD Capt. Daniel Curry.

The laundromat, the Domino's and a vacant unit were destroyed. Another vacant unit was damaged, firefighters said. About 10 minutes after the firefighters left the building, the facade and the roof collapsed.

According to Jose Viramontes, the manager of a Domino's pizza restaurant located in the strip mall, three of his employees were inside the business when they heard what sounded like a loud explosion next door. The employees went outside and saw a fire had sparked in the laundromat and called 911.

"It's sad. This is how we pay our bills," said Viramontes. "I have employees who depend on this job. Some of them are students who work part time and go to school."

About 75 firefighters responded to the blaze and knocked it down within 59 minutes, according to the LAFD.

An arson team was conducting an investigation. The cause of the fire was still undetermined.

No injuries were reported.

Kevin Labeach contributed to this report.

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