Fire damages restaurant at Denver Tech Center strip mall

Fire at Denver Tech Center strip mall, Belleview & Ulster. July 12, 2012. Photo by: David Tschan

Fire at Denver Tech Center strip mall, Belleview & Ulster. July 12, 2012. Photo by: David Tschan

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DENVER -- Fire at a Denver Tech Center strip mall forces customers to flee, businesses to close, and sends one firefighter to the hospital.

It happened about 1: 20 p.m. at Marina Square One at Belleview and Ulster.

They’re not the customers Tuan Le had hoped for at his new business, Pho Saigon Le.

“I feel upset because we just opened 3 months (ago),” says Le.

Open just three months when flames chased the Vietnamese native and his customers away.

“The smoke coming down and then I told my customers (to) get out,” he says.

Everyone at the entire strip mall was forced to evacuate, including Chris Pryor, co-owner of Soundings. He snapped photos as fire ripped through the roof.

“Next thing you know, the fire department shows up and smoke starts appearing like crazy, and flames start appearing like crazy,” says Pryor.

Firefighters worked to prevent the fire's spread to other businesses. And it was a tough fight.

“During the fire fight, part of the roof started to collapse. The incident commander made the prudent choice to pull the crews out,” says Denver Fire spokesman Phil Champagne.

Minutes later, the roof collapsed.

“The way they attacked the fire, it was immediate. It saved the entire building from burning down,” says Dependable Cleaners owner Steven Toltz. His business is just three doors down from Pho Saigon Le.

Firefighters are investigating the cause. But some business owners say electricians were on the roof when the fire erupted.

“Something happened up there with the electricians. I’m not sure. But they’re the ones who came to say there’s fire in the attic,” says Pryor.

The damage could leave some people like Tuan Le feeling a bit burned. He says closing for any length of time will hurt him. “(It will) take a couple more months to fix,” he speculates.

But his insurance adjuster says he could be back and running in 20 days. The remaining businesses should be open Friday.

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