The suspicious fire Wednesday morning at the Platinum Showgirls Club that caused more than $250,000 in damage was deliberately set, Tampa Fire Rescue said.
Investigators from the state Fire Marshal's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spent the morning combing the scene for what started the fire, which shuttered the club just as Super Bowl week is gearing up.
A fire marshal dog detected a flammable liquid near the start of the blaze, leading investigators to call it arson, according to Capt. Bill Wade of Tampa Fire Rescue.
At 4:51 a.m., firefighters responded to the club's automatic fire alarm. The nude bar, at 4009 W Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., appeared closed but firefighters could see smoke through an open front door, Wade said.
The sprinkler system helped firefighters extinguish the blaze about 30 minutes after it erupted. No injuries were reported.
Wade said investigators have spoken with several club employees as well as the owner. County and state records list the owner as J.O. Properties LLC, which is operated by Keith R. Johnson.
The club is a part of the Drew Park neighborhood, an area notorious for adult businesses.
A club representative told the St. Petersburg Times last month that the business was bringing in 20 percent less money than the previous year because of the struggling economy.