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September 17. 2012 12:03AM

Fire guts market on Manchester's Massabesic Street


Manchester firefighters battle a blaze on Massabesic Street in Manchester Sunday night. (MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Firefighters are trying to determine the cause of a three-alarm fire that gutted the Sahara International Supermarket at 750 Massabesic St. late Sunday night.

“It’s too early to say right now what caused this,” Manchester Fire Chief James Burkush said as firefighters manning water cannons continued to spray water on the smoldering shell of the market. “We’ll have to take a look at things.”

Burkush said the initial call at 9:51 p.m. came from a passerby who said they saw flames coming from the rear of the building. Upon arrival, firefighters found heavy smoke pouring from the roof and back of the market, whose sign indicated it sold Arabic, Pakistani, Indian, European and African food.

“The guys made a quick search of the premises, and made an attempt to fight the fire,” said Burkush. “But we made the call to pull them out of there, and tackle it from outside.”

The market was the scene of an arson fire two years ago. Burkush confirmed that a fire was set there on March 8, 2010. Within days of that, an arsonist also set ablaze two vacant buildings on nearby Mammoth Road.

Sunday night’s fire drew a crowd of onlookers, some from the East Side Club next door.

“The place just went straight up,” said Mike, an East Side Club patron who asked that his last name not be used. “That place had the best shawarma subs in the city. I’m really going to miss it.”

Portions of Mammoth Road and Massabesic Street were closed while firefighters looked for hot spots in the building. Burkush said the fire was knocked down by 10:45 p.m.

Investigators are expected on scene today.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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