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2-alarm fire at strip mall damages four downtown Indianapolis businesses

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A two-alarm fire damaged four downtown businesses at a strip mall early Monday morning.

IFD crews were called to the West Side Shoppes at 10th and MLK just before 2 a.m. where they found heavy smoke and fire coming from the Chipotle business as well as the adjoining Jimmy John's restaurant. According to IFD, a person passing by the strip mall saw the fire and called 911.

Crews arrived to find thick, black smoke coming from the building. Preliminary investigation revealed that the fire may have started in the supply closet/food storage area in the Chipotle business. IFD said the fire appeared to be electrical in origin.

It took crews about 25 minutes to get the fire under control.

"These strip mall fires, any time you get a large structure fire like this, the mass of the fire and the location of where the fire could be requires a lot of man power for search efforts," said Battalion Chief Rita Reith. "The challenge is the fact you can get pretty deep inside a structure like this and run out of air pretty quickly."

Strip mall fires, according to Reith, can be some of the most dangerous fires for crews to battle due to the size, hidden void spaces and multiple points of entry.

Reith says the fire Monday morning exhibited dangerous warning signs of an oxygen deprived fire, including heavy smoke, soot on windows and no visible flames, which can quickly "turn south" for firefighters working the scene.

In addition to Chipotle and Jimmy John's, the architecture firm of Charles Brown as well as Lux on Capitol, an apartment leasing firm, were damaged.

Damage is estimated at $500,000, according to IFD.

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