City officials work to protect businesses, historic buildings after Madera mini mall fire

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- A historical Madera building was reduced to rubble on Monday.

A massive fire burned a mini-mall in downtown Madera to the ground, leaving nothing behind but piles of charred debris along Yosemite Avenue.

"We take pride in our downtown, so as you drive through downtown Madera and see these old buildings, it has a lot of meaning to us. To see it go up in flames, it's very sad," Mayor Andrew Medellin.

It took more than 50 firefighters from Fresno to Mariposa counties around six hours to contain the massive fire.

The old structure, posing a challenge for fire crews.

"There were holes that had been there forever, and the fire can travel through those, and it has a way of advancing ahead of us," said Madera CalFire Battalion Chief James Forga.

Businesses owners and folks nearby caught video of the massive blaze with their phones.

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Rosa Villa from Serrano's Furniture across the street captured the moment a portion of the building came crashing down.

"It was crazy, it was so close, and it's like something you would see out of a movie," she said.

The building was built in the late 1800s and was once known as Mace's Yosemite Hotel.

Later, it became known as the McMahan's Furniture building.

Mayor Medellin says these older buildings are not fitted with fire sprinklers, and adding them would be very expensive for the building owners.

Going forward, he plans to work with the fire department to perhaps get them retrofitted for smoke alarms, which would be more cost effective.

For now, his first goal is to help both the tenants and building owners get back on their feet.

"We want to get this building back up and running to provide those jobs if that's what the business owners want to do," he said.

The building owner is working with the insurance company. The building is a total loss and is going to be demolished.

Fire officials have not yet released the cause of the fire.
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