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Firefighters investigate blaze at vacant Pinellas Park building

PINELLAS PARK — Authorities were investigating the cause of a massive blaze that damaged a vacant building Wednesday night in the 8000 block of U.S. 19.

More than 25 fire units from Pinellas Park, Largo, St. Petersburg, Lealman and Seminole responded to fight the blaze, which was first reported at 9:45 p.m. inside a building at 8851 U.S. 19, authorities said. When firefighters first arrived, heavy smoke seeped from the roof of the two-story office building.

It took about 90 minutes for the fire to be extinguished, officials said. Smoke was so thick on the second floor that firefighters had a difficult time finding the source of the fire.

The fire was finally brought under control at about 11:15 p.m. As firefighters surveyed the damage, they found evidence that people had been living in the 14,995-square-foot building, authorities said. But no one was inside at the time the fire started.

The building, which used to house a bank but has been vacant for some time, was valued at $800,000 and sustained heavy smoke and fire damage, officials said. Investigators determined that the fire started on the second floor, but the exact cause was not immediately known.

Firefighters investigate blaze at vacant Pinellas Park building 03/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 7:04pm]
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