Suspicious fire guts former Wendy's in Mesa strip mall; transients responsible?


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Javier Soto

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 6:33 AM

Updated Sunday, May 19 at 1:27 PM

Map: Dobson and Main, Mesa

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MESA, Ariz. -- Investigators suspect transients might have started a fire at a Mesa strip mall early Thursday morning.

Crews were called out to the strip mall at Dobson Road and Main Street at about 3 a.m.

It started in what used to be a Wendy's, but the building has been vacant for some time.

Firefighters were called out to the same building about two weeks ago for another fire. They determined that transients were responsible for that one. Investigators believe this is a similar situation.

After determining that the building was empty, firefighters decided to go defensive, which means they fought the fires from the outside and concentrated on keeps the flames from spreading.

The fire was particularly stubborn, with several hot spots and flares-ups keeping crews on their toes.

The former Wendy's is in a strip mall. While there are some businesses there, most of the spaces are empty. The closest active business is about 40 feet from the restaurant space. Firefighters were able to protect that business.

Because the building was vacant, the fire is considered suspicious. Investigators will rule out electrical issues as they try to determine if the fire was started accidentally or intentionally.

No injuries were reported.