Manatee County firefighters battle house fire in Bradenton

MANATEE -- No one was injured in a fire that damaged a Bradenton triplex just before 10 a.m. Thursday.

Southern Manatee Fire Rescue and Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue firefighters responded to the blaze in the 4300 block of Eighth Street Court East with three engines from Southern Manatee and one from Cedar Hammock. The 911 call came in at 9:55 a.m. and the first units arrived at 9:59 a.m.

Southern Manatee Battalion Chief Herb Smith said more than 50 percent of the structure was engulfed upon his arrival.

"There have been no injuries from our guys, and I was told the structure was abandoned," said Smith.

The outside of the rundown building was overgrown and it appeared no one lived in the building. A Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputy on the scene said he was called to the site about two months ago when the property owner wanted to inspect the building and ensure no squatters were inside. The deputy said the property has not been a troubled area for law enforcement and there was no evidence of squatters at the site.

The property owner reported he was going to shut off the electricity until he could find a tenant. An Florida Power and Light employee on scene said the power was active, but there was no way to determine if it had been shut off to the three units.

The fire started in the center unit, which was destroyed by the blaze. Two corner units were untouched by fire but suffered smoke and water damage, making the building look to be a total loss.

A thick, column of black smoke greeted firefighters to the scene. Flames were blazing out of the top of the roof of the center structure.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze within 20 minutes and battled hot spots the remainder of the morning. Smith said it was too soon to have an indication to what started the blaze.

"We'll be here the rest of the day trying to figure that out," he said.

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.