Four overnight fires clustered near 13th Street and 10th Avenue have Columbus fire investigators seeking tips from anyone who noticed suspicious activity in the area.
Firefighters first were called at 2:03 a.m. to 1110 13th St., where they found someone had set fire to a pile of about 15 old automobile tires behind Agarwal Medical Plaza, said Fire Marshal Ricky Shores. Though the tires were under a loading dock, the blaze caused only heat and smoke damage to the masonry building's exterior, Shores said.
Firefighters still were at that site on 13th Street's south side when they saw smoke on the street's north side, where they found an abandoned Chevrolet van had been set ablaze behind 1103 13th St., Shores said.
Then at 2:06 a.m., firefighters responded to reports of two structure fires at 1430 and 1424 10th Ave., the buildings next door to each other, the fire marshal said.
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He said 1424 was a vacant building slated to be demolished, but 1430 belonged to New Linwood Baptist Church, and the building was a total loss, Shores said. A third adjacent building at 1422 10th Ave. also was damaged from "exposure fire," or heat and flames emanating from the other structures, he said.
According to Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Streeter, who was on the scene on 10th Avenue, firefighters upon arrival found the church building ablaze with flames rising 30 feet in the air.
Investigators already are listing the cause of the first two fires as "incendiary," meaning they deliberately were set. The other fires' cause remains undetermined. All were within a half-mile of each other.
Anyone with information on the fires is asked to call fire investigators 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday at 706-3520, or call Columbus police detectives anytime at 706-653-3400, Shores said.