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20130329 USA Sports Fire CAB 0015MISSION – Four recent fires—all in a three-block area between Oblate and Keralum Avenues, off 9th Street—have spurred a bit of concern for the Mission Fire Department. While only two of the fires related, there is something to be learned from all four of them.

Two fires have occurred in unoccupied, abandoned buildings. Both buildings have been torn down since the fires.

One building occurred at an old warehouse off of Keralum and Business 83. The building had no running water, electricity or gas. Owners had taken a diligent effort in keeping the area secure, said Mission Fire Chief Rick Saldaña. It was kept as secure as it possibly could. The owners had already been going through the process to demolish the building before a fire was deliberately set.

The other abandoned building, previously De Leon Funeral Home, is where another fire broke out on the second floor. The eastern part of the building was already involved in fire when firefighters arrived on the scene between 2:30 and 3 a.m. This Fire Department suspected this fire could have been deliberately set since the building was vacant at the time with no electricity.

Another building in the area, also known as the old Davis Building Complex, had a fire occur on a Monday about 7:45 p.m. The fire was a result of an electrical short, said Saldaña.

The most recent fire occurred last week, March 26. The Fire Department received a call about 4:30 a.m. about a fire at USA Sports, located on 9th Street near Oblate Avenue. Saldaña said firefighters tried to keep the fire contained to the western side of the store, but the fire was too far advanced to do so.

According to Saldaña, the western corner of the store is where most of the production for the items at the store took place. USA Sports did screen printing and embroidery on T-shirts and other products.

The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time. Saldaña said due to the extent of the fire damage, they have not been able to find a cause for the fire.

Saldaña said there are precautions owners can take with old buildings and buildings that are not being unoccupied. The biggest thing, he said, is to make sure the building is as secure as possible.

“Board the window, lock the door, board the doors,” said Saldaña. “Do whatever needs to be done to keep vandals, vagrants, homeless, anything to get into the building.”

The buildings in this area, said Saldaña, are a lot older buildings. They are part of the old township. We do our annual inspections. We work with the business owners to come into compliance, and they are really good at doing that.

“We just ask for them, if they find any problems, take care of the problem real well,” he said. “The age of the facilities play a factor also.”

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