The fire was first reported around 4:30 a.m. at Fair Oaks Avenue near Peoria Street.
The flames were so intense that the smoke plume could be seen for miles. The Pasadena Fire Department brought in its ladder truck to gain an advantage.
"Upon arrival, we had flames and smoke shooting through the roof," said Lisa Derderian with the Pasadena Fire Department. "We immediately went into a defensive mode and did what we call 'surround and drown.' We just started with our ladder trucks hitting the roof with water. It was a very stubborn fire; took two hours to extinguish."
In the end, a beauty salon, an art gallery and a furniture store were destroyed.
"The gentleman that owns the furniture business said he met some high school friends and recently opened up the furniture shop to restore vintage furniture," said Derderian. "He estimates he had a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of furniture inside, and here he's only been in operation about a year."
Fire officials estimate the damage at more than $1 million. But things could've been worse if not for a firewall. It spared three other stores, including Empire Bicycles. The owner of that business, Mario Guliano, anticipated the worst when he first arrived Sunday morning.
"We got off the freeway and saw the whole road closed. We didn't know what was going on," said Guliano. "When we got here, we talked to a firefighter, and he came and showed us what happened. But thankfully, our business seems OK."
There was no indication that anyone was inside any of the stores at the time the fire started.
One firefighter was injured battling this blaze, but he's expected to be OK.