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Fire destroys vacant buildings near Piedmont Avenue

The two boarded-up buildings were difficult for firefighters to access.

Fire truck responds to structure fire
A Duluth Fire Department truck responds to a fire on Fir Avenue on Saturday.
Jimmy Lovrien / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Two vacant buildings were destroyed by fire Saturday on Park and Fir avenues, just off Piedmont Avenue and West First and Second streets.

Duluth Fire Department fire crews first responded to a fire at 11:03 a.m. at 111 Park Ave. Two fire engines arrived within three minutes, and heavy smoke was coming from the two-story, boarded-up building, according to a news release from the fire department.

Assistant Fire Chief Denny Edwards said at the scene that the fire was fought from outside the building, as the structure had been condemned and was unsafe inside. Access to the building was limited due to the location on a steep hillside, with no street or driveway access.

About 20 minutes later, another two-story, boarded-up building, at 116 Fir Ave., next to 111 Park Ave., was also reported to be on fire. According to Edwards, the building was also difficult to access and was condemned. Crews let the fire burn for some time before deploying water to the structure.

Duluth firefighters battle structure fires on Fir Avenue
Duluth firefighters battle a house fire at 116 Fir Ave.
Jimmy Lovrien / Duluth News Tribune

The Park Avenue fire was brought under control within an hour, while firefighters remained on the scene of the Fir Avenue fire for four hours. Both buildings are a total loss. No injuries were reported.

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Edwards told the News Tribune the buildings were not close enough to each other for the fires to be spread by exposure, and there is a good chance both buildings were simultaneously burning when crews arrived.

"I would say, yes, they are suspicious and they are under investigation by the fire marshal's office," Edwards said of the fires.

Both buildings are owned by the same person, according to St. Louis County records. Neither building had power prior to the fire.

116 Fir Ave. was the site of a 2015 homicide.

This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. June 18 with details about the fires from the Duluth Fire Department. It was originally posted at 2:16 p.m. June 18.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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