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Fire Guts Mercedes-Benz Auto Dealership

Fire gutted the W.I. Simonson automobile dealership in Santa Monica on Thursday, destroying the landmark Spanish revival-style building and crushing at least 25 Mercedes-Benz motorcars.

No injuries were reported, but a Santa Monica Fire Department spokeswoman estimated damage to the cars and building at more than $1 million.

Firefighters said the blaze was discovered in the repair shop area at about 6 p.m., and appeared to be fully controlled 45 minutes later. But it burst forth at about 7:45 p.m., shattering a huge plate glass window in front and bringing down the showroom roof on the expensive cars on display there.

Cause of the fire was under investigation.

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