Drugstore Fire Investigated

A fire in a Redondo Beach Thrifty drugstore has drawn the attention of a multi-agency unit that is investigating whether the blaze was linked to fires that broke out in two other South Bay Thrifty drugstores this month.

The Redondo Beach fire occurred at 12:37 p.m. Wednesday in a Thrifty at 1720 Aviation Blvd. It caused an estimated $100,000 in damage. Listed by fire officials as suspicious, the blaze is being investigated by a unit that includes officials from local fire and police departments and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

“It originated in broad daylight in the middle of the store, where you wouldn’t normally have had a fire,” Tom Krieg, a battalion chief with the Redondo Beach Fire Department, said Friday. “When you put that together with the other Thrifty fires, it’s suspicious.”

The Redondo Beach blaze follows two similar fires March 3 that occurred about 20 minutes apart. The larger, which broke out at about 1:30 p.m., gutted a Thrifty store at Anaheim Street and Avalon Boulevard in Wilmington and also destroyed a Bank of America branch and damaged a Top Value Market.

The other caused minimal damage to a Thrifty outlet at 501 S. Gaffey St. in San Pedro. Investigators attributed both fires to arson, saying the blazes started when stacks of pillows at the drugstores were deliberately set on fire.