Suspicious fire damages stores
The blaze closes a restaurant and four other shops on U.S. 19 in Clearwater.

By MAUREEN BYRNE AHERN, Times Staff Writer
St. Petersburg Times
published July 13, 2003

CLEARWATER - An early morning fire Saturday caused about $500,000 damage and closed five businesses at the Cypress Point Shopping Center.

Firefighters arrived about 6:30 a.m. and battled flames for 10 minutes, said Hugh Yeager, a Clearwater fire district chief.

Most of the damage occurred at a Chuck E. Cheese's, 25921 U.S. 19 N, where flames destroyed the restaurant's front exterior.

Officials say the blaze did not spread inside the 28-unit shopping center at Enterprise Road and U.S. 19.

Wayne Shelor, Clearwater police spokesman, said the cause of the fire is unknown.

"At this point, the investigators haven't determined the cause, but they are comfortable in saying it's suspicious in origin," he said.

The fire caused extensive smoke and water damage inside some of the stores, Shelor said.

The stores included Levine's Family Shoes, a dentist's office, a State Farm Insurance office and an S & K Menswear.