A fire deemed by the Gainesville Fire Department as "suspicious" destroyed a house and damaged two others early Sunday.
Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada said officials arrived at that ruling based on some items investigators found at the fire scene, as well as the fire's origin.
"All the utilities were off to the home, so there were no power or gas hook-ups that were active," he said. "The structure had contents in it — furniture. But from what we gather, it has been vacant for some time."
Canada, noting that the fire is still under investigation, declined to say where the fire started in the home, which is in the 2500 block of Lenox Drive.
A passerby reported the fire to authorities at 7:20 a.m.
Upon arrival, firefighters found the 1,200-square-foot house consumed by fire.
"They went into a defensive mode until they got the initial fire knocked down, and then they went in and searched what was left of the home," Canada said.
"They didn't know if anybody was in there when they got there, but they couldn't (enter it) because of (the flames)."
The fire, meanwhile, had spread to houses on either side.
Houses in the neighborhood, which is off U.S. 129 South, are "very close together," Canada said.
Damage to the 1,200-square-foot home was estimated at $100,000, a total loss.
The neighboring homes, also similar in size, each had about $15,000 in damage, Canada said.
"It was basically all surface damage. The vinyl siding was melted off the side of their houses," he added. "... Structurally, they are fine — the fire never got to the structural part.
"The firefighters were able to keep water on those and keep them from (burning further)."
The neighboring houses were occupied at the time of the fire, but residents were outside when firefighters arrived, Canada said.
No one was injured in the incident.