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Firefighters rule two Bayshore Gardens fires arson

MANATEE — Two fires that broke out within minutes of each other over the weekend in vacant Bayshore Gardens homes have been ruled arson, according to Ceder Hammock Fire Rescue officials.

Firefighters were called to the first fire just after 10 p.m. Saturday and found a vacant home engulfed in flames, in the 6600 block of Columbia Drive. While firefighters battled that blaze, a call came at 10:49 p.m. about a second fire in a vacant home, just down the street in the 6200 block, according to Cedar Hammock Fire Marshal Jeff Hoyle.

The fires did $30,000 damage to each vacant home, but there were no injuries, Hoyle said. Both fires have been ruled arson with no other cause found, and a K-9 dog found signs of an accelerant at one of the homes, Hoyle said.

Saturday’s fires are the latest in a string of similar blazes in vacant homes in the Bayshore Gardens area in recent months. Hoyle said several other fires in the area also been ruled to be arson.