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House fires under investigation

By:  Lisa Davis - Star Beacon

ASHTABULA - - An early morning house fire that destroyed one home and damaged another on West 40th Street is still under investigation by the Ashtabula Fire Department.

Firefighters were called to 540 W. 40th St. at 12:49 a.m. Wednesday. Upon arrival, they found a vacant two-story wood-frame house engulfed in flames. An estimated $30,000 in damage was done to the structure, said Fire Chief Ron Pristera.

"The house is a total loss," he said.

The fire department still is investigating the fire, but it appears that the fire wasn't accidental, said Capt. Gerry Senger.

Pristera said it will be hard to do a significant investigation because the chimney collapsed, the flooring on the second floor was burned and there are holes in the first floor, he said.

Another part of the investigation will determine who owns the property, Pristera said.

The fire was so intense that the heat from the fire melted the vinyl siding of a two-story neighboring house located 15 feet to the east, at 534 W. 40th St., Pristera said. Damage to that home's exterior is estimated at between $5,000 and $10,000. The 534 W. 40th St. occupants were evacuated as a precaution, while firefighters brought the fire next door under control, Pristera said.

Crews from three engines and one ladder company were able to contain the fire in the burning house and limit any further damage to the neighboring house. Crews left the scene around 4:40 a.m.

Anyone having any information about the fire is asked to call the fire department at 992-7191.

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