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A fire ripped through a furniture store Tuesday morning and caused an estimated $3 million in damage to the building and its contents.

Of the damage caused by the fire, Bakersfield Fire Department Battalion Chief Ross Kelly said, “It appears to be a total loss.”

Bakersfield Fire Department got the call at 4:57 a.m. that a fire had broken out at Home Decor Furniture, 2501 Union Ave.

The 40,000-square-feet property included the showroom in front, plus two inventory areas that served both that location and a second store at 900 Chester Ave.

Firefighters arrived at the scene to find a heavy, rapidly spreading fire in multiple locations in the building, Kelly said.

Crews first fought the fire from inside the building. To access the inside, they had to force doors open, cut through gates and use a circular saw to open roll-up doors, Kelly said.

But the fire spread so rapidly, the firefighters had to be removed from the building, Kelly said. They continued spraying the fire from atop their trucks’ ladders. The blaze was under control by 6:30 a.m.

The three-alarm fire required seven engines, four ladders, seven command officers and 45 firefighters.

No injuries were reported.

The eastbound Union Avenue exit of Highway 178 had to be closed for firefighters to access their supply line. The fire also knocked out multiple traffic lights in the surrounding area. Bakersfield police were called in to help control traffic.

The owner of Home Decor Furniture, Peter Phan, was asleep when he got a call from the alarm company about the fire. His first thought, he said, was that he had no idea what to do.

“I never imagined a big fire like this could happen because it’s a metal building. I don’t know how it could burn down a whole big store,” Phan said.

One of the store’s 12 employees, salesman Ramiro Rodriguez, echoed Phan’s shock. He and six other employees were at the scene Tuesday morning watching firefighters work on the smoldering building.

Rodriguez had seen the fire on television before coming to work. But he still wanted to come in, he said, to check that the fire was in fact at his workplace.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I was just here yesterday.”

Home Decor Furniture leases the space from building owner Ted Pierce. Pierce could not be reached by phone at his office or home Tuesday.

Investigators continue to look into the cause of the fire. There is a possibility that the furniture contained flammable materials or liquids, causing the fire to spread, Kelly said.

It could take two days to figure out the cause, Kelly said, because “we’re going to need to dig through all the debris and rubble.”