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5-Alarm Fire Destroys Businesses In Santa Clara Strip Mall

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) – A massive 5-alarm fire at a Santa Clara strip mall has destroyed several businesses and sent flames and smoke towering into the early morning sky Wednesday, authorities said.

Firefighters responded at 2:47 a.m. to the blaze at Rancho Shopping Center on El Camino Real, Battalion Chief Casey Potts said.

Crews arrived to find flames had spread through about a third of the strip mall and was burning in a common attic space. The roof of the building eventually collapsed as the fire progressed, Potts said.

Firefighters were able to stop the blaze from spreading to the rest of the building and extinguished it by about 7:30 a.m., according to Potts. No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and crews remained at the scene late Wednesday morning conducting overhaul operations.

Several hours after the fire broke out, the extent of the damage was apparent.

Fire officials said said multiple wall additions and a facade that collapsed during the fire made it risky for firefighters.

In all, officials said the fire destroyed seven businesses

For 46 years, Kumar Jewelers owner Surin Verma and his family survived recessions, the dot-com bubble burst and the mortgage crisis.

Now the proprietors of one of the first and most popular Indian jewelers in the south bay, face perhaps is their biggest test of all.

Their shop was reduced to smoldering rubble by the fire.

"We will survive this one too. God's with us, so we'll be OK," said Verma.

The destructive fire burned for hours, even though crews dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons on the stubborn flames.

The Radhe Chaat vegetarian Indian restaurant is a total loss. Owner Prakash Patel said he has no plan B.

"Looks like everything is gone, so we'll have to build it up or do it again," said Patel.

Firefighters soaked the edges of the fire to cool things down, and stayed on the rooftop of the Roundhill Dance Studio to try and hold the line.

The business, owned by Donna Maruoka, was one of the lucky ones.

"That could've been me. Inches, probably inches away. The firefighters worked really hard to contain it," said Maruoka. "Those guys were amazing."

The fire spread through Seoul Rice Cake, an Indian restaurant, a foot spa, a karaoke business and a vacant salon, Marurka said.

She received a call at 4 a.m. that the studio's burglar alarm went off and quickly arrived to the strip mall where she saw the fire burning for hours.

Marurka has run the business for 10 years and was worried about whether she can still hold the studio's 30th anniversary performance in about three weeks.

Potts called the fire "labor-intensive" and said Santa Clara firefighters received assistance from the Santa Clara County and San Jose fire departments as well as the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

Eastbound El Camino Real between Flora Vista and Nobili avenues reopened shortly before noon after being closed for hours because of the response to the fire.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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