"I was pretty shocked, it was intense, it was hard to see -- it's our job on fire," said Sabrina Caprio, who called 911.
Employees driving by the Cloud N9ne hookah lounge on 35th Avenue north of Greenway noticed the smoke and flames just after 2 a.m. Thursday.
"We just saw flames.. just everywhere," said Caprio.
"Well, it was pretty bad. From a scale of 1 to 10, it was probably a 10.. like you knew it was going to go down," said Dashawn Miles, an employee.
Firefighters put the blaze out quickly and managed to save nearby structures from a lot of damage, but as the sun came up, you could see the inside of the lounge was destroyed.
Other businesses in the shopping center are without power. Jeanell Glynn, an employee of Maids of Honor Housecleaning, was at work late Wednesday night and says the hangout was closed.
"There was nobody inside the building, like it was open. I could hear people out in the parking lot because I entered through the back."
Employees tell FOX 10 the lounge is closed during the week except Mondays, so no one should have been inside -- one of the reasons investigators called this fire suspicious is the fact that the fire spread so quickly.
"Fire doubles in size every two minutes. This fire was really going so that in itself makes it look that way," Phoenix Fire Captain Jonathan Jacobs.
"It's kind of hard especially when you have a lot of money put into it.. like a lot of your equipment. I d.j. too, so a lot of my stuff is in there," said Miles.
The lounge is obviously closed for business. The people who work at Cloud N9ne are hopeful they can pick up hours at the owner's other location nearby.
Fire crews calling hookah lounge fire 'suspicious'More>>