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Published Oct. 29, 2008


Three vacant, single-story houses caught fire on E Columbus Drive Tuesday afternoon, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.

The fire originated at 1715 E Columbus Drive and spread to the houses on both sides, 1715 1/2 and 1713.

Smoke could be seen as far away as the Interstate 275 and Interstate 4 junction. Passers-by could look directly through the charred remains of all three homes because of extensive damage to the rear entrances.

With the help of 30 fire fighters and four engines, the fire was extinguished 45 minutes after it began. No one was injured, fire rescue officials said in a news release.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but while firefighters were tending to the burned structures, a fire broke out across the street at 1708 E Columbus Drive.

Fire investigators arrested a 13-year-old and charged him with setting fire to that building.

It is unclear whether he was involved with the fire at the other three houses, fire rescue officials said.