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Arson Investigators Deem Fashion District Fire Suspicious

LOS ANGELES ( — Small business owners spent the day cleaning up after a fire damaged three stores and thousands of dollars worth of clothing early Saturday morning in the Downtown L.A. Fashion District.

Crews were sent around 2:30 a.m. to K-1 Fashion, a fabric store located in the 1400 block of Santee Street, L.A. County Fire Department reported.

"This is the business we made more than 20 years," store owner Ted Aria told CBS2/KCAL9's Joy Benedict. "I can't believe it because, yesterday, I closed this store and go home. I can't believe it. I've got goose bumps."

Once on scene, firefighters said they encountered a row of one-story commercial buildings and smoke showing in the area.

Due to heavy security measures on stores in the area, it took rotary saws to gain access to the building.

"We had rotary steel doors, scissor gates, heavy steel doors to go through. And it just takes time to get through all that," L.A. Fire Department Battalion Chief David Perez said.

According to firefighters, flames were seen shooting 20 to 30 feet in the air, and it didn't take long for the fire to burn through the roof of the building.

Authorities explained the fire started near fabric samples located in the rear of the store.

Crews were able to contain the fire damage to the fabric store.

Store owners arrived to the scene shortly after 8:00 a.m., and told Benedict everything inside the fabric store was ruined.

"It's open. No roof at all," Aria said. "Thank God we have insurance, but I don't think it covers the loss."

KCAL9's Joy Benedict spoke with crews who explained Mike's Tailor Shop and Noell's Dress Shop, which share the building, both suffered smoke damage.

About 80 firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze in just under an hour.

Firefighters explained arson dogs were brought to the scene, and picked up on some materials for possible accelerants.

According to LAFD arson investigators, the materials are being sent away for testing. It will take several days before they know what started the fire.

At this time, the cause of the greater alarm structure fire has been deemed suspicious.

Firefighters were working to determine the monetary loss in damages, and are waiting until daylight to finish with cleanup before leaving the scene.

No injuries were reported.

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