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3-Alarm Fire Guts China Max Restaurant, Causes $4.5M In Damage To Kearny Mesa Strip Mall

Firefighters fighting a three-alarm fire at the China Max Seafood Restaurant ...

Credit: San Diego Fire-Rescue Department

Above: Firefighters fighting a three-alarm fire at the China Max Seafood Restaurant in Kearny Mesa on April 7, 2020.

UPDATE: 7:30 p.m., April 7, 2020

Fire investigators late Wednesday determined the fire at the popular China Max Seafood Restaurant in Kearny Mesa was accidental.

The fire was caused by a faulty electrical wire in the building's overhang, according to the San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team. MAST identified the cause after looking at surveillance camera footage, which showed smoke coming out of the overhang around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Original story:

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling a three-alarm fire that tore through a two-story restaurant and caused an estimated $4.5 million in total damage to a Kearny Mesa strip mall, authorities said Tuesday.

Firefighters responded shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday to reports of a fire at the China Max Seafood Restaurant, near the corner of Convoy Street and Engineer Road, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. No one was inside when firefighters arrived.

At one point, all the windows of the restaurant were blown out by a "smoke explosion" and the flames spread from the first floor to the second floor, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

A total of 123 firefighters worked to extinguish the flames, which were knocked down around 1:05 a.m., the department reported.

Two firefighters were taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, but they have both been released from the hospital, fire officials said.

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, crews remained at the scene to monitor hot spots and perform an overhaul on the two-story, multi-suite building.

The blaze damaged several businesses next to the two-story restaurant, but it was not immediately clear how many businesses were affected.

The fire caused an estimated $3 million in damage to businesses in the strip mall and $1.5 million in damage to their contents, fire officials said.

Metro Arson Strike Team investigators were looking into the cause of the fire.

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