TAMPA (FOX 13) - Tampa Fire Rescue crews are investigating a two-alarm fire that broke out at a strip mall early Saturday morning.
The fire was first reported around 2:45 a.m. at 2202 W. Waters Avenue. Firefighters said it appeared to originate inside a nail salon business at the eastern end of the strip mall.
Officials said two firefighters were injured while battling the blaze. Both were taken to the hospital, but one of them was able to return to the scene.
Flammable liquids and combustible chemicals inside the salon and adjacent storage areas presented major challenges to respondents. Fire officials say it took three and a half hours to get the flames under control.
“Basically with all those liquids inside you don’t know what’s going to happen so it takes a lot longer to put out liquid than normal combustibles,” said Tampa Fire & Rescue arson investigator Joe Hotz.
Two business owners were forced to evacuate when the fire broke out. No injuries were reported, but their businesses themselves weren’t spared.
Fox 13’s Kellie Cowan spoke to one small business owner who was inside his restaurant working on Christmas catering orders when he began to smell smoke. Ricardo Webb, the owner of Blue Island Jamaican restaurant, says the fire has forced him to close up shop at the busiest time of year.
“It’s my income but what can I do?” said Webb. “I’m just going to think positive and thank god that nobody got hurt, you know? That’s the greatest thing. I’m going to fulfill my orders even if I’ve got to go home and cook and sell my food like that.”