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'Stubborn' Blaze Breaks Out In Mar Vista Strip Mall

MAR VISTA ( – It took dozens of firefighters more than 90 minutes to contain what was described as a "stubborn" blaze that broke out in a strip mall on a busy Mar Vista street Sunday.

The greater-alarm fire was reported around 11:47 a.m. in a 9,200 square-foot building that houses seven businesses in the 3500 block of South Centinela Avenue.

Crews arrived to find a shared attic among the businesses "heavily involved" in flames, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The flames were mostly confined to a shared attic that ran through all seven businesses, LAFD said. The fire was knocked down by 1:22 p.m. At its height, 117 fire personnel were on scene.

Roma Specialty Pizza and Rustic Kitchen Market and Cafe Wine Bar both suffered damage from the fire.

"I worked really hard to get this store, it's like seeing your baby go up in smoke," owner of Roma Claudio Montanari said. "There was fire everywhere.  There was smoke everywhere.  You couldn't even see where you were going."

During the firefight, Centinela Avenue was shut down and drivers were rerouted. There was no word on a cause or a financial estimate of the damage. The building is 69-years-old, LAFD said.

About 945 customers were without electricity in the area, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.  Power was expected to be restored by 11 p.m.

The restaurant at the end of the strip mall was also damaged. They were serving brunch when they smelled smoke and started to evacuate.

"I'm devastated," owner of Rustic Kitchen Noell Fanaris said. "It's just been over a year and we were starting to do well."

Investigators are bringing in dogs to continue an arson investigation.

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