Large fire destroys Asian market in Merced

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The smell of smoke lingered for hours in Downtown Merced, and residents said the market was a place where you could get fresh food and unique gifts, but it's now gone. (KFSN)

A massive cleanup effort is underway after a fire inside a popular Merced Asian market sent crews from a number of Central Valley fire departments out to help.

That fire happened a little after 10 a.m. on Main Street. The smell of smoke lingered for hours in Downtown Merced, and residents said the market was a place where you could get fresh food and unique gifts, but it's now gone.

Flames shot up into the air some thirty feet, leaving a plume of thick black smoke sitting over the burnt-out Asian market in Merced.

"It's been here since we were small," Laura Mejia said.

Mejia grew up going to the market as a kid.

"We would shop occasionally," she said. "They had all kinds of stuff a lot of Asian stuff, just foods that you can buy, knickknacks, stuff like that - egg rolls."

Into the afternoon, parts of Main Street were closed off as crews continued to work to put out the flames. It was a fire that brought out nearly 40 firefighters from three different agencies. Two ladder trucks were also brought in to help.

Merced Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson says firefighters did face a few challenges.

"We went through, going inside the building, but the fire was too large and it spread to the attic," he explained.

Firefighters then backed into a defensive operation in an attempt to keep it from spreading to nearby buildings.

"They trenched it, which means they cut a ventilation hole across the wall, and they made sure the fire did not spread to the next building," Wilkinson said.

The entire interior of the building was destroyed. Officials say no fire alarms or sprinklers were found inside.

Firefighters are planning to go inside the building later in the night to make sure it is safe to conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

No one was inside when it happened.
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