Overnight fire guts Santa Barbara businesses

Laundromat and shoe repair suffer major damage

A ball of fire rips through the front window of a Santa Barbara laudromat during an early morning fire. (submitted photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - An overnight fire gutted two Santa Barbara businesses Monday morning.

Santa Barbara City Fire Department said the flames started around 2 a.m. at 1930 De La Vina Street. The Bubbles and Beans Laundromat and the shoe repair shop inside suffered major damage.

The owner of the laundromat says the location was up for sale. A broker had been on the property Sunday. There is also a living and storage unit above the business.

Officials say there were no injuries.

Smoke was showing from the front when the first engine arrived, and another engine on the back side saw flames. In all five fire engines were called to the scene.

Because the building was older, the risks were high and the flames began shooting through the front windows.  An eyewitness saw the glass break out.   

Fire Battalion Chief Jim McCoy said he assigned a safety firefighter to the incident to make sure everyone front and back knew of any structural or fire dangers that could be hidden as they were putting out the flames.

 The fire was controlled in about 45 minutes but there was an extensive overhaul. Late in the morning investigators started to work on a cause for the fire.

Some items were brought out and separated from each other. A special dog that determines substances that can accelerate a fire came, sniffed and identified evidence of interest. That will be reviewed by a lab to see if it has a link to the origin of the fire or the rate of spread.

Many customers came by to comfort the owner of the laundromat and the shoe repair.

One person said his friend had a $4,000 pair of shoes in for repair at the time of the fire.

Nearby businesses had the smell of smoke but the fire did not extend through the attic or cause any other damage. The Santa Barbara City Fire Department estimates damages of $300,000 for the building and $200,000 for contents.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation but fire officials are treating this incident as suspicious in nature.

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