* Updated on Oct. 25 with correct name of restaurant. The city of Cerritos business website previously had the restaurant listed as Imperial Mandarin Palace on shoploscerritos.com, but the restaurant actually changed ownership late last year. The city has since then revised the business listing and it is no longer on the website. The restaurant was currently named Marhaba Chinese Palace.
Firefighters battled a massive fire at the Fountain Plaza in Cerritos early today that left several businesses in the two-story multi-unit strip mall destroyed, causing about $5.5 million in damages.
The blaze at the shopping plaza on South Street and Gridley Road broke out about 2 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 23 and burned for more than three hours, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The fire eventually went to a third-alarm, prompting reinforcements from about 75 firefighters at the scene. Fire crews continued to douse small flare-ups in portions of the structure more than two hours later, according to a Patch camera crew at the site of the blaze.
"We are still in a defensive mode,'' county fire Inspector Quvondo Johnson said about 3 a.m., adding that part of structure had collapsed. "We're getting a handle on it, but we're not at full knockdown,'' he said two hours later.
The fire reportedly began at Marhaba Chinese Palace -- a restaurant that specializes in Halal Chinese and Pakistani cuisine located along the back end of the shopping plaza -- then spread to adjacent businesses. Many longtime locals know the eatery as the Imperial Mandarin Palace -- a neighborhood fixture that actually closed business and changed ownership last year.
As firefighters battled the stubborn flames, the roof of the restaurant eventually caved, prompting crews into defensive mode, according to reports from the scene.
The huge early morning blaze sent strong scents of smoke wafting through the thick foggy air, leading several residents to call the sheriff's station with concerns of a possible fire near their homes, Sgt. Joe Quire of the told Patch.
Aside from the restaurant, the damaged building also houses at least 10 other businesses, including , , Hallelujah Driving & Amen Traffic School, Baby Visit Ultrasound, , and .
The units share a common attic, Johnson said, and the fire tore through the attic of the second floor. What was left of the first floor sustained water and smoke damage, he added. No injuries were reported.
Damage to the structure was estimated at $4 million, and roughly $1.5 million worth of contents were also destroyed, county fire Inspector Mark Savage said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.