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Early morning fire damages law offices

A firefighter is slightly injured by falling debris. The cause of the blaze at the offices of Waller Mtichell & Barnett is under investigation.

Published August 11, 2006

NEW PORT RICHEY - A mysterious fire blackened the inside of a Main Street law firm early Thursday morning.

At 4:48 a.m., firefighters arrived at the offices of Waller Mitchell & Barnett just east of U.S. 19 to find the concrete block building engulfed in smoke.

When they entered, the fresh oxygen caused an explosion of flame known as a flashover, New Port Richey fire Chief John Thela said. One firefighter sustained a minor eye injury from falling debris.

A force of 28 had the fire knocked down in about half an hour. Most of the damage was confined to the southeast section.

The fire's cause was unclear Thursday.

The state Fire Marshal's Office was investigating, but a spokeswoman refused to provide details. The building's perimeter was surrounded by crime-scene tape.

"There are some suspicious circumstances," said Capt. Darryl Garman of the New Port Richey police. He would not elaborate.

Lawyer Chip Waller said he expected to be back in business by Monday. Employees showed up on Thursday morning to find a firefighter shoveling sludge out the back door.

Instead of going to their desks, they went to Jimmy's for breakfast.

[Last modified August 11, 2006, 06:23:38]

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