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Fire damages vacant home; electrical problem blamed

By JOUNICE L. NEALY

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 20, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- A vacant Granada Terrace house scheduled for a buyer's closing in a few days was damaged by an early morning fire Tuesday that brought about 25 firefighters to the scene.

Closing on the house at 106 23rd Ave. NE is scheduled for next week, said Realtor Mary Brophy.

The blaze started around 7:30 a.m., said St. Petersburg District Fire Chief Roger Lane. There was heavy smoke on the second floor and heavy fire in the attic.

"We were chasing it," Lane said. The fire was moving rapidly through the attic, but "we got ahead of it," he said.

Traffic was diverted from a stretch of First Street while the fire was being fought.

Damage is estimated at $30,000. Officials still are investigating the electrical fire, which was considered accidental, said Lt. Chris Bengivengo, a spokesman for the city Fire Department.

It is not clear which party will be responsible for paying for the damages, considering the sale had not been finalized and there was evidence of recent electrical work. Neighbors told firefighters that contractors were doing electrical work on the house Monday. Brophy said it's best not to say anything until insurance companies have done their work.

The same house caught fire in 1998 after a lightning strike. That fire also was in the attic. Those owners have since moved and sold the house.

The three-bedroom, two-bath house was sold in June for $303,000 to George C. Vogelsang, a Miami lawyer. The home also has a belfry, oak floors, landscaped yard with fence and a courtyard.

Neighbor William McCormick said Vogelsang never lived in the house. It's on the market again, and McCormick said a couple from Atlanta was buying it.

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