3-alarm fire damages BiG and Deals Supercenter store on Hillsborough Avenue

Posted at 2:47 AM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 12:54:41-04

A fire caused extensive damage to a Tampa retail store on Monday night.

Four employees closing the BiG and Deals Supercenter at 4015 E. Hillsborough Ave. smelled smoke around 9:15 p.m.

One of the employees grabbed a fire extinguisher to fight the fire. When that employee opened up a door, smoke poured out. He told his co-workers they needed to get out of the building.

Once outside, an employee used a cell phone to call 911 to report the fire.

When crews from Tampa Fire Rescue arrived on scene they discovered heavy smoke coming from the building's northwest corner. Crews immediately began spraying water on the fire.

A few minutes later the incident commander called for a second alarm because the fire continued to grow.

Firefighters decided to fight the fire defensively using ladder trucks instead of going inside the building because they were concerned the roof could collapse.

At 10:30 p.m. the incident commander requested additional crews to fight the fire, upgrading the fire to a third alarm.

Shortly after midnight firefighters reported the fire was under control.

Authorities say the building's roof did collapse and there is extensive damage inside.

"I can't say it is a total loss. Based on what I've seen, no one is going in there for a while," said Jason Penny, spokesman for Tampa Fire Rescue. "The important thing to remember is there were no injuries. Nobody got hurt. Everyone got out safely. But it's going to take a little bit before that building is up and running and they're back in business."

Investigators with the Fire Marshal's Office say the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in the void space between the dropped ceiling and the roof level in the area above the kitchen. 

The intersection of E. Hillsborough Avenue and N. 40th Street was closed for hours while crews battled the fire.