Blaze Forces Evacuation of Walmart in Rialto, Chars $750K Worth of Products

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A Walmart Supercenter in Rialto caught fire, sending a thick column of black smoke into the sky, while customers were in the store late Friday afternoon.

The garden and outdoor portion of the store was gutted by the flames, with its roof charred to ashes and the products inside burnt to a crisp, aerial video from Sky5 showed.

Crews responded to the location at 1366 S. Riverside Ave. shortly before 4:30 p.m., and the blaze was extinguished by 5 p.m., the Rialto Fire Department said.

Christina Hockman was in the store when the fire broke out and told KTLA she "got out just in time."

"It was very scary, very scary," she said. "I'm like, 'I'm hope they get everybody out of there.' "

Hockman captured video from her car as the fled the area and shared it on Instagram.

"It went so fast," she said of the blaze. "I don't know what was on fire, but it was quick. You could hear popping, banging."

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FIRE @walmart

A post shared by Christina Hockman (@christinahockman) on

Several videos posted to social media showed customers and employees streaming out of the supercenter as a large, billowing cloud of smoke loomed overhead.

The flames were mostly contained to an exterior storage area used for seasonal items. About $750,000 worth of product was damaged, mostly Christmas decorations, according to Rialto Fire Capt. Jake Ploehn.

Crews managed to keep the fire outside the main building, Ploehn said.

Fire officials said extensive overhaul would be required. Crews were seen in the garden center, ensuring no smoldering areas reignited in the piles of debris.

Later, investigators sifted through the rubble for evidence. They were also reviewing the store's security tape, officials said.

The fire's cause was not immediately clear, but arson is being considered a possibility.

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