Crews Battle Fire Near Zoo's Panda Exhibit

By R. Stickney and Monica Dean
|  Monday, Jul 11, 2011  |  Updated 10:01 PM PDT
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The Monday morning fire near the San Diego Zoo's panda exhibit was arson, said Maurice Luque, San Diego Fire and Rescue spokesperson.

The Monday morning fire near the San Diego Zoo's panda exhibit was arson, said Maurice Luque, San Diego Fire and Rescue spokesperson.

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Fire Sparked Near San Diego Zoo's Panda Exhibit

Fire destroyed a gift shop next to the panda exhibit at the San Diego Zoo early Monday. Monica Dean reports.
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The fire that destroyed a gift shop next to the panda exhibit at the San Diego Zoo early Monday was deliberately set officials said.

The Panda Shop was engulfed in flames when San Diego Fire and Rescue crews arrived to the area of the zoo near the Canyon Café just before 2 a.m.

A zoo security guard spotted the smoke while on routine patrol zoo officials said.

The shop was mostly made of wood and burned quickly with the metal roof collapsing fire spokesperson Maurice Luque said

The gift shop was about 50 yards from the panda enclosure, and south of the large bird aviary in that part of the zoo.

“At no time were the animals endangered,” said Luque. “No other structures were endangered. It was just this gift shop, maybe 1200 square feet that was fully involved.

Firefighters were able to knock down the flames in about 15 minutes once they arrived.

In all, 25 firefighters were called to the scene -- that's 4 engines and 2 trucks.

Fire investigators are going through the charred structure to figure out what caused the blaze.

Animal exhibits were not affected however the Canyon Café may be impacted depending on how soon water and gas can be restored to the area.

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