Fire scene at Off Road Warehouse in Kearny Mesa. Image via

A predawn fire that gutted a Kearny Mesa auto parts business last month, causing $3.5 million in monetary losses, was an act of arson, federal officials announced Friday.

Investigators with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that the March 28 blaze at Off Road Warehouse in the 7900 block of Balboa Avenue was intentionally set, said agency spokeswoman Ginger Colbrun.

No arrests in the case have been announced.

“This is now an ongoing criminal investigation,” Colbrun said.

The fire — the second to erupt at the store in four months — was reported shortly before 1:30 a.m. and burned for more than four hours before firefighters were able to subdue the flames.

A veterinary hospital next door was evacuated as crews worked to extinguish the blaze, attacking it from outside the burning two-story building because it was too intense to fight from inside, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

The business previously had been damaged by fire the evening of Nov. 16. The cause of that blaze was unclear.

— City News Service

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