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Fire damages attic, rear office at Desert Eye Institute in E.C.

February 13, 2001|By MARCY MISNER, Staff Writer

Fire and police investigators are looking into an unusually high number of fires occurring in El Centro after another blaze, this one at Desert Eye Institute on Monday night.

The fire, reported at 1461 State St. about 9:42 p.m., was extinguished in about 20 minutes, with damage to the attic and a rear office, said El Centro Fire Marshal Linual White.

White said eight off-duty firefighters were called in to help on-duty personnel quell the fire, which started in a storage area in the rear of the building and spread to the attic and rear office.

Firefighters put plastic over furnishings in the office in an attempt to minimize damage to the business while others extinguished the flames, White said.

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The business owner, ophthalmologist Dr. Navenra Jay Patel, was called to the scene last night.

"We are concerned about the number of fires we've had lately," White said. "We are working very closely with the Police Department in trying to come to a conclusion."

He said there appears to be no link between several fires in El Centro recently, including a Dec. 1 fire that leveled The Salvation Army thrift store on Main Street in downtown El Centro, a Dec. 14 fire that destroyed the 7-Eleven on Dogwood and Main streets and a Jan. 24 fire that destroyed the Fox Theater in downtown El Centro.

"But there have been an inordinate number of fires. That is unusual and that is what we are looking at right now," White said.

An operator with an answering service said this morning Desert Eye Institute would not be open today but staffers would be checking messages.

Staff Writer Marcy Misner can be reached at 337-3441.

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