Fire Damages Vacant Strip Mall

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BRIDGEPORT -- A vacant strip mall at the edge of downtown was heavily damaged in a fire late Sunday night.

The fire spread horizontally across the four storefronts at 540 Park Ave. after it reached the rafters of the one-story building, fire department spokesman William Kaempffer said.

A police officer on routine patrol spotted the fire, and when the first engines arrived shortly after 10:30 p.m. there were flames and heavy smoke coming from the rear of the structure.

"There was initial concern about possible exposure to a nearby house, but it wasn't threatened,'' Kaempffer said.

Although all visible fire was extinguished by about 11:15, firefighters remained on the scene for sometime after checking for hot spots. The vacant building is undergoing renovations, the spokesman said, and was the scene of at least one other fire.

The city fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.