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UPDATE: Suspicious shopping center fires in Roberta ruled arson

The state Insurance Department says suspicious fires over a 26-hour period at a strip mall in Roberta are arson.

For the second time this week firefighters were called to a strip shopping center next to the Piggly Wiggly in Roberta on East Cursell Street. Crews were able to save the structure but four of the five stores were damaged, said Fire Chief Randall Pate.

The Tailgate Sports Grill suffered the most damage in the fire that was reported at about 3:15 a.m., Pate said. Firefighters battled a smaller fire at the strip after 11:30 p.m. Sunday, he said.

Glenn Allen, spokesman for Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine, said gasoline was used to set the fires. He said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been called in to help with the investigation.

Today's blaze affected the Security Finance office, a laundromat, hair salon and vacant building, Pate said.

"My guys who fought this fire two days in a row did an outstanding job," Pate said. "They did a remarkable job in saving this building."

The roof and structure of the building is intact, Pate said, although the interiors sustained damage.

One westbound lane of the street was blocked for a few hours but reopened at about 6 a.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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