The former site of a long-standing West High Street convenience store was damaged by fire Friday less than a month before it was to be demolished.
The blaze at the vacant Stop 'N' Shop, formerly PDQ Market, was reported by passersby about 3:15 p.m., Lexington fire department Battalion Chief Brian Wainscott said.
No one was injured. The building has been vacant since Nov. 19. It is scheduled to be demolished in mid-December to make way for the next leg of the Newtown Pike extension project, said Mohamad Shalash, who owned the business for about four years.
Investigators say they think the fire started on the outside of the building, but a cause had not been determined Friday night, Wainscott said.
By the time firefighters arrived, flames had engulfed the outer wall and a room on the building's west-facing side. Smoke hung in the neighborhood like a thin fog.
"It's a little odd that we'd get a fire that's really raging when we roll up in that amount of time, during the day," Wainscott said.
The building is at 970 West High Street, at the corner of Oliver Lewis Way. The state bought the property for $450,000 in August, city spokeswoman Susan Straub said.
After his landlord sold the building, Shalash relocated to 570 East Seventh Street, the former site of Billy's 7th Street Market. The store is now called Billy's Stop 'N' Shop, he said.
Firefighters had the fire under control in about 20 minutes. Shalash showed up after that to survey the damage. He said a trash can near the corner of the building caught fire. He theorized someone could have thrown a cigarette butt in it.
Firefighters were still digging through the rubble, but "that's highly possible," Wainscott said.
Shalash said the building had been a good location for business, but he wasn't particularly saddened to see the damage. "It was going to go anyway," he said.