ESCONDIDO, Calif. – Dozens of firefighters battled a four-alarm blaze at an unoccupied building off Interstate 15 in Escondido Thursday morning that sent flames and plumes of black smoke shooting hundreds of feet into the air.
The fire was reported at 8:52 a.m. at 555 North Hale Ave., off the I-15 freeway near State Route 78. When firefighters arrived, they found the flames had already penetrated through the roof, according to Jeff Murdoch, Emergency Preparedness Manager for the Escondido Fire Department. There was fear the roof and building might collapse.
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Officials say there were six transients in the building when the fire broke out. All six got out safely. There were no injuries.
North Tulip Street was closed between West Valley Parkway and North Hale Avenue. A power outage had knocked out electricity to about 141 customers in the area, San Diego Gas & Electric reported.
A Sig Alert was issued at 9:40 a.m. Northbound I-15 traffic was backed up all the way to Rancho Bernardo, according to California Highway Patrol’s incident information system. All SPRINTER train service was expected to be shut down in the immediate area for about four hours, Murdoch said. Riders were being shuttled between Escondido Transit Center and Nordahl Road Station.
The building used to house Talones Meat Market, which has since closed. It was not clear who currently owns it.
The cause of the fire was not known. Arson investigators were on scene.