(Jan. 27) LOS ANGELES — Fire broke out Jan. 23 at the Seventh Street Market, damaging several wholesalers’ operations, fruits and vegetables.

Inventories at Strawberry Kids Produce and Panda Produce Inc. were destroyed, and officials at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services were on site to hunt for water or smoke contamination in crates of produce on loading platforms. Inspectors continued to work the day after the fire.

Santiago Galvez, owner of Strawberry Kids, said when he first saw a relatively small amount of smoke coming from the second floor of the unit next to his, he thought it might be a small restroom fire. But when someone opened the front door of the facility, which was used for storage, “The fire was all around.”

Galvez lost his inventory that he estimated to be worth $100,000, including $50,000 worth of dried chili peppers that cost up to $100 a box. His business records also were destroyed.

Strawberry Kids, which Galvez said has been on the market for 12 years, sold a wide range of fruits and vegetables, including lettuce, bell peppers, tropical fruit and peppers, to small retail operations and restaurants.

Phone lines to Panda Produce were busy.

The fire ignited in the building next door to Samra Produce & Farms Inc., said John Ladre, operations manager, though his business suffered little to no damage.

—Western correspondent Tom Burfield contributed to this story.