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Arson Probe Underway After Body Found In Strip Mall Fire

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CANOGA PARK (CBSLA.com) — An arson investigation was underway Thursday after a man’s body was discovered in an early morning fire at a San Fernando Valley strip mall.

More than 60 firefighters responded to the fire at 7832 Alabama Avenue after it was reported around 2:10 a.m., according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott.

Crews knocked down the flames in just over a half hour and found the body of a man between the ages of 50 and 60 years old in one of the damaged units, which was among several that were severely damaged, according to the LAFD.

“It’s very sad. We encounter it every year during the holidays and it never gets easier,” said L.A. City Fire Capt. Frank Semenza.

KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports one firefighter was hospitalized after he fell 16 feet off a ladder while fighting the blaze.

Semenza said the man suffered bruises and injuries to his left side and is in fair condition.

Investigators will now search for any evidence to determine whether the fire was deliberate or accidental.

They will also check to see if any nearby video or alarm system cameras caught the event as it happened.

“Some are located here and we’re using them now,” Semenza said. “That will help us gather our facts.”

One tenant told CBS2′s Kristine Lazar he just moved his cabinetry business to the strip mall on Wednesday.

“They did what they had to do to extinguish the fire,” he said. “They sawed through the roof, they sawed through the side of my thing, and they hosed down everything.”

The unidentified owner said his insurance has yet to take effect.

“I’m not even finished moving in, my stuff is still on the sides,” he said.

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