Lightning Suspected In Carmel Strip Mall Fire

Movie Store, Wine Shop Burn

Lightning likely sparked a fire at a Carmel shopping plaza early Tuesday when storms rolled across the state, fire officials said.

The fire at the plaza near 106th Street and Michigan Road was reported about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, 6News' Derrik Thomas reported.

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It gutted the some 12 stores, including a Blockbuster video store, a restaurant, a wine store and a tanning shop.

Carmel Fire Marshal Bruce Knott said flames were already shooting through the roof by the time firefighters arrived.

A witness told fire officials that she had been outside near the building when lightning struck nearby, and said she noticed flames coming from the back of the building about 20 minutes later.

No injuries were reported.

"Nobody was hurt. That's what insurance is for," said Tom Wagner, who owns the UPS Store in the complex. "It's tough, it's kind of sad, but there's nothing in there that we can't replace."

More than 100 people work at the strip mall. Jack Clark, who owns the complex, said he hopes to rebuild in 180 days.

"We're mostly concerned about our tenants. They want to be back in business. They employ a lot of employees in the Carmel community," he said. "Our main objective is to get the shopping center rebuilt as soon as possible."

Knott said the damage to the building is estimated at nearly $3 million, not including all of the merchandise and equipment inside the stores.