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Business owners survey damage from Ballard fire linked to overheated ceiling

Many business owners are left wondering how they will rebuild after a massive 3-alarm fire destroyed their stores in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood.

SEATTLE — A fire that destroyed four Ballard businesses and damaged one other most likely started from an overheated electrical between the ceiling and the roof.

Investigators finished their investigation on site Tuesday just before noon, according to Seattle Fire spokesperson Kristin Tinsley. They released their initial findings, but the official ruling of the fire's cause remained undetermined due to the extent of the fire damage and instability of the building.

The fire, which broke out in the 2300 block of NW Market Street Monday afternoon, began in the back of the building at the northeast corner, according to Seattle Fire.

There was an estimated $1.5 million loss to property and another $1.5 million loss to contents. However, insurance companies will determine the actual value lost.

La Isla restaurant, Supercuts, Kitchen N Things and Coleman Jewelers sustained heavy damage and are a total loss, according to Seattle Fire. Pho Big Bowl was damaged from smoke exposure and water, according to the Seattle Fire Department.  

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"You end up getting shocked, standing across the street watching your life's work go up in smoke," said David Coleman, owner of Coleman Jewelers. 

Coleman's security cameras captured the massive amounts of smoke that filled his business and others. 

"After 25 years, it's, it's hard watching everything I've poured my life into end up with the ceiling over everything," Coleman said. 

Footage from KING 5's drone captured the aftermath Tuesday morning, showing the strip mall in ruins. 

According to an initial report from Seattle Fire, an employee from Super Cuts called 911 around noon to report light smoke. When fire crews arrived, they saw a haze coming from the ceiling. The fire was in the ceiling and attic above the four businesses. The only access was from the roof.

Investigators did not find evidence of fire stops in the attic space that burned, which allowed the fire to progress quickly, according to Seattle Fire. However, there is a large fire wall between Coleman Jewelers and Pho Big Bowl, which prevented the fire from progressing through the complex.

"We got all of our jewelry out of the front window and we're going to try and refinish it and try to start over," Coleman said.

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About 150 firefighters responded to the scene. One firefighter was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, officials said. 

No one else was injured in the massive fire.

Firefighters will remain on fire watch until the building isn't at risk of reigniting.