Fire fighters fight a fire at Rhodes Memorial. March 17 2009 Photo by Michael Walker

Johannesburg - A raging fire at Greenacres Mall in Port Elizabeth was extinguished on Thursday after damaging 26 shops, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality said.

“Rescue pumps were dispatched and arrived within minutes after an emergency call was received from Greenacres Security at 3.30am,” said spokesperson Kupido Baron in a statement.

“The fire in Checkers was contained and the hardworking firemen and women ensured that it did not spread to other parts of the centre,” he said.

Baron said a case of arson had been opened with the police because of the extensive damage to the shops.

A team of forensic investigators and the municipality's fire safety unit had started investigating the cause of the blaze.

The fire department was still on the scene just before noon, said mall spokesperson Vanessa Sabbatini.

She said the 26 stores would not open for business on Thursday because of smoke and water damage.

They were: Checkers, House and Home, Spitz, Absa, Bargain Books, Ackermans, Jet, Rage, Levisons, Romens, Exact, Identity, Queenspark, Debonairs, Froggies at Tinas, Health and Comfort Shoes, Shoe City, Travelex, Fragrance Boutique, Cut Above, Home Comforts (which is part of Ackermans), Sheet Street, Maurice Levin Jewellers, Torga Optical, Pollocks and BT Games. - Sapa