Electrical malfuction caused Tampa grocery store fire

- The fire marshal ruled an electrical malfunction sparked a 3-alarm fire that burned through a Tampa grocery store Monday night.

Fire crews spent hours battling the flames at BiG and Deals Supercenter on East Hillsborough Avenue.

Tuesday afternoon, workers boarded up the front of the store while firefighters wrapped up their investigation. The store's owner stood back in quiet disbelief, understandably shaken by the sight. He's not ready to talk about it.

Monday night, around 9 p.m., Tampa Fire Rescue got a frantic 911 call. Firefighters arrived to find flames shooting through the roof. For hours, they used ladder trucks to fight the fire from above.

"I kept smelling something. I said, somebody's burning leaves or something," said Melvin Nelson who lives a few streets away.

"I seen a lot of flames shoot up," said Lasonia Walker, who lives feet away from the store. "I'm like, oh my God, that's kind of scary because I live right next door to B & D."

All of the employees got out safely. But the building, built in the 1950s, was left with major smoke and fire damage, including a partial roof collapse. The total cost of damage is still unknown. For the surrounding community, it's a loss that can't be quantified by dollar signs.

"I went there a whole lot. I went there more than I went to any other store," said Walker. "It was one of the closest stores convenient to me because I'm vision impaired. So, it's best to go there than to try to go down there and run across traffic."

Miles from the big-name grocery stores, "B & D" is their own, close to home.

"It means a lot, I guess, especially to the older people that can't travel far or get around far. They can walk up there," said Nelson.

Neighbors hope this piece of their community isn't gone forever.

"It's gonna be missed in that sense, yeah," Nelson said.

FOX 13 spoke to the owner of the building, Fadi Mubarak. He said it's still unclear if they'll rebuild. It all depends on the damage inside.

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