Fire rips through Santa Clara shopping center destroying 8 businesses

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Fire rips through Santa Clara shopping center, destroys 8 businesses
A five-alarm fire that burned for hours at a shopping center in Santa Clara is finally out after it destroyed eight businesses Wednesday morning.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- A five-alarm fire burned for hours Wednesday in the South Bay at the Rancho Shopping Center at El Camino Real near the Lawrence Expressway.

PHOTOS: 5-alarm fire in Santa Clara destroys several businesses

One business owner called the charred buildings remnants of the American dream -- to own a small business, to build it and then to watch it burn.

ABC7 News was the first news crew on the scene and captured much of the destruction.

Along row of businesses went up in flames Wednesday morning. The fire appears to have begun in the front of shopping center and then worked back through one small business after another, burning eight of them.

Surin Virma owned Kumar Jewlers, a store that had been there for 35 years. "Is all I can take it minute by minute. Whatever it's going to be," Virma said.

Business were kept out of the area by yellow tape.

Donna Marouka owns a dance studio on the fringe of the burnscape. She's likely to have smoke and water damage.

"I have costumes in there, sets, music. My first priority is to get out so that we can work and still have our show in a couple of weeks," Marouka said.

For much of Wednesday, the scene remained too hot for fire investigators to get close in search of a cause. But they're keying on an Indian restaurant. That's where Deuk Lee first spotted smoke and called 911.

Though for business owners, the how and why matter less than what comes next. In this shopping mall that felt connected, organic, and employed 60 people, what next is everything.