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Fire destroys abandoned house

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Rochester firefighters responded to a fire in an abandoned house Tuesday night, Aug. 23, 2016, in the 4800 block of 31st Avenue Southwest in Rochester, Minn. The structure was fully involved when crews arrived. The structure was located about 100 yards off 31st Avenue in a wooded area. Rochester Police and Gold Cross Ambulance also responded to the scene.

An abandoned house in southwest Rochester was destroyed by fire Tuesday night, the Rochester Fire Department reported.

A passer-by called the department at 8:26 p.m. to report a house at the corner of 48th Street and 31st Avenue Southwest was on fire. By the time firefighters arrived, the house was engulfed in flames and firefighters couldn't enter, said Deputy Chief Steven Belau.

"The damage was so extensive on arrival of the fire department that the house was allowed to burn completely rather than consume water for no useful outcome," he said.

The driveway to the house had been blocked off by trees to stop vehicles from entering; this complicated the fire department's response, he said. They had to limit their efforts to stopping the fire from crossing 48th Street through the woods, which were catching fire, and stopping the fire from burning two outbuildings.

A thunderstorm was going through the area at the time, increasing the danger to firefighters. But neighbors said they hadn't heard any thunder close by nor had they seen any lightning strikes.

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No injuries were reported. The origin of the fire hasn't been determined; vandalism had been reported at the site in the past, said Jason Whitney, assistant fire marshal, "but there's no immediate indication of the cause."

The Rochester Fire Marshal's Office is investigating, Belau said.

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