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Fire at Domino's in Stratham may have been caused by electrical problem

STRATHAM &#-; An electrical problem in a ceiling is likely to blame for a three-alarm fire that gutted a Domino's pizza shop and damaged two other businesses in the Stratham Plaza Sunday morning, fire officials said.

The fire broke out shortly before 8:30 a.m. in the strip mall at 74-76 Portsmouth Ave. Firefighters responded after receiving a fire alarm activation at the businesses, which were closed at the time.

Stratham Fire Chief Rob Cook said fire crews found heavy smoke coming from the businesses at the end of the plaza closest to Portsmouth Avenue.

&#';When we were coming all we could see was a big black column of smoke,&#'; Cook said.

The fire appears to have started in the ceiling of Domino's, which sustained significant fire damage. A Curves fitness center and The Blind Gallery and Custom Drapes &#-; both located on either side of Domino's &#-; experienced smoke and water damage while the rest of the stores were spared, Cook said.

The fire quickly went to three alarms, bringing approximately 60 firefighters from 12 fire departments to the plaza, Cook said.

Cook said an electrical issue in the ceiling of Domino's is believed to have caused the blaze, but investigators haven't pinpointed exactly what happened. The fire is not considered suspicious.

The fire was knocked down by about 9:30 a.m., but some Stratham firefighters remained at the scene until early afternoon as insurance agents and business owners assessed the damage.

Cook said the fire response went smoothly.

&#';We got right in and knocked the fire down. A second engine came right in and everything worked well. It was a very good job by everybody,&#'; he said.

Cook said Domino's appears to be a total loss. Owner Kirsten Moskowitz was visibly shaken and said she didn't want to talk about fire.

Moskowitz took over the shop from her brother in 2005, according to their father, Donald Moskowitz of Londonderry. He said the Domino's first opened in 1988 under a different franchisee, but that his family has operated the shop since 1994.

&#';This is her life,&#'; he said, referring to his daughter.

The property is managed by Evergreen Management Inc. in Bedford. John Williams, association manager, said he didn't have an estimate on the total loss.

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