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Several La Jolla businesses without power, phones after two-alarm electrical fire

Several businesses in the three-story building at 7724-7726 Girard Ave. were without power and phone service Tuesday after an electrical fire Monday night caused tenants to be evacuated and extensive smoke damage before being extinguished by firefighters.

No one was hurt in the two-alarm fire that broke out in the basement of the building near Silverado Street, which houses Marengo Morton Architects, Bang & Olufsen and Interwest Capital Corp.

“Access to the basement was difficult, but they got it knocked down after about an hour,” said San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Lee Swanson about the two-alarm fire that 12 fire apparatus and about 65 firefighters responded to at 6:35 p.m. “They (firefighters) were on the scene until 5 a.m. making sure nothing smoldered.”

Deborah Marengo said she was in the architectural firm’s suite when the fire began.

“At 5:45 p.m. my alarm company called and told me they’d lost connection to my suite,” she said. “I checked our phone line and it was ringing busy.”

Marengo called her landlord and told them there was a problem and they came over and they jointly went down to the basement to inspect the wiring.

“I smelled smoke and called the fire department and told them to come to the front of the building,” said Marengo, adding she saw white smoke filling the ground-floor suite of Bang & Olufsen.

“We have significant smoke damage and the basement and all the wiring in the building is basically gone,” added Marengo. “We’ll probably be without any phone service, e-mail and electrical for three to four days.”

Marengo added she believed Bang & Olufsen, a stereo retailer on the ground floor, was hardest hit because “the fire was actually between the ceiling of the basement and Bang on the ground floor.”

Interwest Capital Corp. is on the third story of the building.

Michele Addington, who was on the scene and took photographs of the fire, wrote in an e-mail, “By the time I got there smoke was thick and the smell offensive,”

Marengo said firefighters “were amazing.” “They did a great job and really secured it (fire) after a couple hours,” she added.

A second alarm was called because the fire continued to spread and because it was near neighboring buildings.

Swanson estimated building damages at $100,000 to property and $100,000 to contents.