By Cathy Locke and Hudson Sangree
Several hours after fire erupted at a Tuesday Morning store in Citrus Heights -- sending up a huge plume of black smoke that could be seen across the region -- firefighters poured thousands of gallons of water on the store's smoldering remains.
At one point late Monday afternoon, the dramatic orange flames and billowing smoke attracted dozens of spectators to the busy Citrus Heights shopping area during the evening commute.
The fire - near Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane - started at about 4:15 p.m., when two clerks and six customers were in the outlet store, fire officials said. All managed to get out and were unharmed, they said. Authorities said the cause of the fire was under investigation.
More than 80 firefighters and 15 engines were called in to battle the three-alarm blaze, said Assistant Chief Scott Cockrum of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.
They poured 6,000 gallons of water per minute onto the flames and managed to save a Rite Aid store next door, but the Tuesday Morning store and neighbor, Hoss Lee Academy, a hair and nail salon, were fully engulfed, he said.
Firefighters were on the roof of the Tuesday Morning as it began to collapse but quickly climbed down. No injuries were reported.
As the flames subsided, water flowed across the parking lot. Layers of the collapsed roof and contents of the store continued to smolder, sending up a cloud of smoke and steam.
Firefighters and investigators are expected to continue working through the night.