Firefighters from Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa battle a fire at the Mark Kia dealership in south Scottsdale on Tuesday. (Source: Todd Jackson / CBS 5 News)
(Source: Dustin Knoer, submitted via CBS 5's Facebook page at facebook.com/cbs5az)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (CBS5) -
A raging fire that destroyed the showroom of a south Scottsdale car dealership early Tuesday morning started in an unoccupied attic area above a hallway and bathrooms, fire investigators said.
The first-alarm fire began shortly after 12:30 a.m. at Mark Kia, 1000 N. Scottsdale Rd., near the city's border with Tempe. The remodeled building was in the final stages of construction after a year of remodeling.
It will still be some time before the actual cause of the accidental fire is determined. Scottsdale fire personnel and the insurance investigators are working through the process of examining the damaged equipment and rubble of the collapsed area.
Mark Kia general manager Josh Spencer said there were no cars in the showroom, which passed its fire inspection Monday, and no cars damaged in the lots. He said they had planned to move the cars into the showroom Tuesday morning.
The building had not yet been cleared for a final Certificate of Occupancy by the Scottsdale Building and Fire Departments.
Spencer said the dealership had spent about $500,000 to $1 million on the year-long remodel leading up to Tuesday's "move-in date."
Damage estimates are placed between $800,000 to $1 million.
Scottsdale Fire Chief Tom Shannon said the fire inspectors check fire extinguishers, exits and some other items, and that the attic would be an electrical, mechanical or air-conditioning inspection.
The fire burned through the main plastic pipe that fed the dealership's fire sprinkler system, a typical event in a fire of this nature, the spokesman said.
The fire spread through the attic, and the showroom roof and air-conditioning units eventually collapsed, disabling the sprinkler system.
About 80 firefighters from Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa were also on the scene battling the stubborn fire, which reignited a few hours later from outside the structure.
Scottsdale Road was closed in both directions between McDowell Road and Roosevelt Street until northbound traffic was reopened about 6:45 a.m. and the southbound median lane just before 10 a.m.
One firefighter was evaluated and treated for possible heat exhaustion.
About 70 workers will be affected, but one of them said they will remain loyal to their employer.
"[Workers] stay for a reason," said Dan Flaherty, who works in the collision center. "They take care of us, so we'll be here for Mark when things get back together to take care of him."
At about 1 p.m. Tuesday, fire crews handed over the scene to fire investigators and cleanup crews.
Fire crews helped the dealership clean up the south driveway so customers could still enter the undamaged area of the dealership.
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