Morning Fire Chars Church And Businesses

Published: Aug 16, 2003

TAMPA - A fire of undetermined origin ripped through a strip mall on North Florida Avenue early Friday morning, causing substantial damage to a Hispanic church and mission, grocery store, and restaurant, authorities said.

Tampa Fire Rescue firefighters responded to the call at 6:42 a.m. with 32 firefighters on two aerial trucks and seven engines, fire rescue Capt. Bill Wade said.

The building is in the 4000 block of North Florida Avenue, just north of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. No one was injured in the two- alarm blaze, Wade said.

The fire damaged the Iglesia Church and Mission. Two adjacent businesses, the Spanish and American Grocery and the El Rincon Latino Grocery and Restaurant, sustained mostly water and smoke damage, Wade said. The damage amounted to about $51,000, Wade said.

The east-west morning rush hour traffic on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was blocked for about an hour, and northbound and southbound Florida Avenue traffic was blocked until after 10 a.m., he said.

The cause of the fire did not appear suspicious, he said.