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What caused huge midtown fire? Authorities are working to find that out
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Investigations are underway to determine what caused the fire in a vacant building at Bradford Street and Industrial Boulevard around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. - photo by Scott Rogers

Investigations began at 11 a.m. today to determine what caused the fire that could be seen throughout Gainesville on Tuesday.

The fire was detected in a vacant building at Bradford Street and Industrial Boulevard around 2:30 p.m. by Chad Payne, the Gainesville Fire Department’s fire marshal.

Keith Smith, division chief of the Gainesville Fire Department, said 30 firefighters arrived on the scene and finally contained it around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The fire spread throughout the 16,000-square-foot building, and transformed it into a heap of metal and wood.

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Investigations are underway to determine what caused the fire that destroyed a vacant building and could be seen throughout Gainesville on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. - photo by Scott Rogers

Smith said the building had been vacant for years and was once called Sign Fabrication.

Smith said the fire could have been caused by a homeless person or an electrical malfunction, but it may take some time to get to the bottom of it.

Payne is leading the investigation with three of the Gainesville Fire Department’s investigators.

“It’s going to be kind of difficult to conduct the investigation because there’s so much metal and wood,” Smith said. “Once they do the investigation, then they’ll put the pieces together. It could be several days, or unable to determine.”

Only yards away, the staff at Tire Barn Tire Pros witnessed the blaze unfold. Jack Roper, co-owner of the business, said after spotting the fire it only took around 30 minutes for the building to burn to the ground.

He said the Tire Barn employees avoided walking outside because the heat from the fire was unbearable.

Despite the raging fire that took place next door, customers weren’t deterred from getting their tires and oil changed Tuesday.

“Business was normal, we just had a little extra action going,” Roper said.

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A crew from AT&T works to repair lines Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, that were damaged by Tuesday's fire on Bradford Street. The building was a complete loss in the blaze. - photo by Scott Rogers
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