A fire and explosion ravaged a strip mall in Cathedral City, California, on Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but several shops and restaurants were damaged.
A passing police officer spotted flames at the Date Palm Plaza about midnight, and firefighters encountered heavy smoke when they arrived, Cathedral City Fire Captain Jeff Welsh told The Desert Sun (http://mydesert.co/ut2ddq).
As the fire spread from a shop in the middle of the strip mall, an explosion occurred, blowing out gas and debris. Battalion Chief John Muhr attributed this dynamic fire event to an infusion of fresh oxygen into an area where heat or smoke had built up.
No one was at the damaged businesses when the fire broke out, and no firefighters were hurt since they fortunately exited the structure before the blast. A total of eight businesses were damaged or destroyed, according to early estimates.
For more on flashover or similar fire events, consult Understanding Flashover, Training Days: Flashover Chamber, or visit our Fire Dynamics section at http://www.fireengineering.com/content/fe/en/fire-dynamics.html. For more on strip mall firefighting response, read Dave DeStefano's First Due at the Strip Mall.