Fire investigators will focus on renovation work taking place at a small shopping center that was all but destroyed by a three-alarm blaze Tuesday evening, Clovis Fire Department’s chief said Wednesday.
The fire produced smoke visible from a distance and spewed embers from tarpaper into the air.
The fire department told residents in a nearby apartment complex to shelter in place, Chief John Binaski said. Fortunately, the roof of the complex had fire-resistant shingles, making it easier to protect, he said.
Clovis firefighters received help from the Fresno Fire Department and the county fire department, he said. The third alarm involved bringing in off-duty firefighters to staff stations in case they were needed, he said.
Never miss a local story.
The fire at Shaw and Peach avenues was called in at 5:59 p.m. Tuesday. The first police officer on scene told those working in the Antojitos Selenes restaurant to evacuate because they weren’t aware a fire had started, Binaski said.
The fire was contained by 7 p.m. and Shaw Avenue was reopened about 9 p.m.
The building was built in the 1970s and did not have interior sprinklers because they weren’t required then. The three-storefront building had the restaurant, a smoke shop and an unoccupied space.
It will take a few weeks of investigation to determine the cause, Binaski said.
The center is under new ownership and the owner estimates the damage at more than $1 million. The walls had new tarpaper on them and were about to get stucco, Binaski said.
Fire investigators will interview those involved in the construction work, he said. Walls leaning from damage will be knocked down so investigators, including private investigators from insurance companies, can look around safely, he said.