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Arson suspected in St. Petersburg apartment fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Firefighters extinguished a Monday afternoon blaze that gutted a second-floor unit at Gateway Apartments, according to St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue. Investigators say the fire was set deliberately.

The fire was reported at 11:52 a.m. at 2000 Gandy Blvd. N. The apartment was unoccupied at the time, and no injuries were reported, according to St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Granata.

Two dozen fire units were dispatched to the scene to keep the blaze from spreading to other apartments. Firefighters said they had brought the blaze under control by 12:07 p.m.

"It was so hot it blew out the front and rear windows," Granata said.

Water damaged the apartment below, Granata said, but it wasn't the water used to fight the fire. Instead, the fire caused a water line in the upstairs apartment to rupture.

That first-floor apartment was unoccupied at the time, so firefighters went inside, removed any belongings that could be damaged by the water and covered the rest up. They also removed the owner's dog.

The fire started in a bedroom and destroyed the apartment and everything inside, Granata said. The Red Cross has been called in to help the woman who lived there. The apartment complex's managers will arrange shelter for her as well, Granata said.

The fire caused about $20,000 in damage.

An arson investigator, aided by a specially trained dog, has determined that arson caused the fire, Granata said.

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Arson suspected in St. Petersburg apartment fire 12/06/10 [Last modified: Monday, December 6, 2010 4:15pm]

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