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Fire that destroyed San Diego Zoo gift shop is called arson

July 11, 2011 |  3:44 pm

Panda An early morning fire that destroyed a gift store near the panda exhibit at the San Diego Zoo was arson, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said Monday.

No animals or people were hurt in the blaze that gutted a 1,200-square-foot store in Panda Canyon.

Two-dozen firefighters had the fire under control within minutes. But the structure and the contents are considered a total loss at $700,000.

The blaze was reported by a security guard at about 1:12 a.m. The gift store is near the panda exhibit and an aviary.

Despite the fire, the zoo opened as scheduled.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Hua Mei at the San Diego Zoo in 2000. The giant panda has since moved to China. Credit: Associated Press

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