Officials probe 'suspicious' La Mesa commercial structure fire

Building was set to be demolished Monday

LA MESA, Calif. - Officials are investigating a fire that broke out Friday evening in a commercial structure in the 4300 block of Palm Avenue in La Mesa.

The 2-alarm fire was reported just before 6 p.m., and heavy smoke and fire was reported by crews upon arrival.

Kyla Robinson lives nearby. She and her cousin were out walking her dog when they realized something was very wrong.

"As soon as we saw there was a fire, we immediately dialed 911," said Robinson. "We looked up and there was black smoke coming from everywhere."

Fire crews searched the building and say it was vacant. The flames got so large officials told crews to back off.

Battalion Chief Ted Kakuris, who is with the Heartland Fire & Rescue Department, said there were challenges. A portion of the roof of the building collapsed while firefighters were working to put out the flames. Crews also had to be mindful of power lines above and were aware of the grassy hillside with homes above. 

"The brush had been cleared, and we had hose lines back there almost immediately," said Kakuris.

The building, which has been vacant for several years, was set to be demolished Monday. Fire officials say that in itself is suspicious. 

"Anytime we have a building that goes up in flames and there's no logical reason because the power's shut down and it's being torn down, it's going to lead us to a suspicious nature," said Kakuris.

No one was injured in this fire. The investigation into its cause continues.

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