Rooftop Fire at Butler Plaza Forces Shoppers to Evacuate
Published November 5th, 2013
GAINESVILLE -- Firefighters want to know why a large array of solar panels apparently caught fire on the roof of a building at Butler Plaza Monday afternoon.
Shoppers say they first noticed smoke rising from the back of the complex off Archer Road around 2 p.m.
Witnesses say the smoke appeared to be coming from the roof of the Best Buy and Petsmart stores. Both stores, as well as nearby Trader Joe's, were evacuated for about an hour after the smoke and flames grew.
After gaining access to the roof, Gainesville Fire Rescue officials say they noticed about 60 solar panels that were on fire. They were able to extinguish the flames within a matter of minutes.
Officials with Butler Plaza say the panels were located on top of a vacant warehouse directly behind the Petsmart.
Firefighters estimate the fire caused about $75,000 worth of damage to the roof of that warehouse while none of the surrounding stores suffered any major damage.
Investigators are expected to be back at the scene Tuesday searching for any clues as to what may have caused that fire.
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