Mark Choi (right) and an employee leave his office in the Plum Tree Plaza after firefighters checked for hot spots on Monday in Edmonds. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Mark Choi (right) and an employee leave his office in the Plum Tree Plaza after firefighters checked for hot spots on Monday in Edmonds. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Police: Arsonist lit fire that ravaged an Edmonds strip mall

Investigators were seeking tips to identify the culprit, who damaged 14 businesses on Highway 99.

EDMONDS — An arsonist set a three-alarm fire that damaged 14 businesses in an Edmonds strip mall known as Plum Tree Plaza, police said Monday.

Investigators were able to determine the cause based on physical evidence and security footage, Edmonds Assistant Police Chief Josh McClure said.

Police declined to release further details about how exactly the arsonist set the fire.

Witnesses reported smoke and flames around 5:35 a.m. Saturday at the L-shaped strip mall at 22315 Highway 99.

Firefighters arrived to find flames roaring from a storefront toward the center of the plaza. Crews battled for about 40 minutes before getting the fire under control, South County Fire spokesperson Leslie Hynes said. About 75 firefighters were on the scene at the peak of the incident.

Nobody was injured.

The strip mall was home to noodle houses, a tutoring center, a dentist’s office, a beauty school, a salon and an antique store. Many of the businesses were owned by Asian Americans. They shared an attic space, and each one sustained either flame, smoke or water damage.

Yellow caution tape blocked off the strip mall and its parking lot Monday. A South County Fire crew remained on scene to check for lingering hot spots.

A man who said he worked at a business in the plaza was cleaning up the storefront of his workplace around 11 a.m.

“Everything is completely black and destroyed in there,” said the employee, who asked to remain anonymous. “The whole ceiling and insulation is caved in.”

His employer was looking for another space to rent, he added.

Edmonds police were working with South County Fire and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate the precise cause of the fire, McClure said.

Police sent out a memo Monday afternoon seeking tips to identify the arsonist. Anybody with information is asked to call Edmonds police at 425-771-0212 or email policetips@edmondswa.gov.

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; edennis@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterellen

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