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Authorities investigating massive fire that destroyed Sarasota building

Firefighters contained a large early morning fire Friday in Sarasota.

The fire, which destroyed a building, is now under investigation.

According to Sarasota Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Milkovich, crews were at J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Cafe at 987 S. Packinghouse Road near Palmer Boulevard and Interstate 75.

Milkovich said the massive fire started just before 5 a.m. as a warehouse fire and eventually engulfed multiple businesses. Adjacent buildings were evacuated and no injuries reported.

At least one building was destroyed, officials said.

A huge smoke plume blew across I-75. The Florida Highway Patrol issued a travel advisory for I-75 at mile marker 209 as a precaution.

Milkovich said the fire grew to six alarms, which prompted additional responses from crews in Manatee County, Venice, Longboat Key and North Port. Milkovich said crews fought the fire defensively on the outside pouring water in due to collapse zones in the building. About 80 firefighters responded.

“We have 25 engines at the scene and three ladder trucks,” Milkovich said. “We’re not going in the building.”

The six-alarm fire is under investigation by the state fire marshal.

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