JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of firefighters battled a major fire early Wednesday morning that destroyed several businesses at a Lakeshore strip mall.
Flames could be seen coming from both the front and back of the northern end of the mall when firefighters arrived about 4:15 a.m. at the one-story commercial building near the intersection of Blanding Boulevard and San Juan Avenue.
"It was really, really, heavy... (It) went through all the buildings. They had to open up their doors," witness Kenneth Blackshear said. "I talked to the owner of the other shop, and he had to come open up his shop because the smoke was so bad."
Before the fire was out, up to 20 Jacksonville Fire and Rescue units were called to help.
Orange Tree Antiques, Office Furniture Place, Gold Refiners Inc. and a dog grooming shop were among the nine businesses in the building owned by John Grant-Dooley.
"They think it may have started in Orange Tree, but they haven’t given me any definitive answer yet," Grant-Dooley said. "The Orange Tree is devastated."
Toby Norris, who owns a neon light shop, said his store didn't suffer much damage, but with the building condemned, and he might be out of business for a while.
"I’m pretty much of a let’s-deal-with-that-type guy. I don’t get too emotional on things like that," Norris said.
While the building was insured, some of the businesses may not.
Blanding Boulevard was closed from Shirley Avenue to Palmer Avenue while firefighters dealt with the fire. It reopened about 7 a.m.
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Firefighters took about an hour to extinguish the flames. No injuries were reported.
The State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.