COLUMBIA — Firefighters say the fire that destroyed a house on Forest Avenue late Sunday morning was suspicious.
They haven't found the cause of the blaze, but they determined it started in or near the southwest bedroom of the house, according to a release from the Columbia Fire Department.
The Police Department's Major Crimes Unit has joined the investigation.
The Fire Department was called about the fire at 112 Forest Street at 11:14 a.m.
Jessica Ford, the renter of the home, was at work when a neighbor called to tell her about the fire, the release said. She returned home and rescued three dogs in the house, who were uninjured.
According to the release, an ambulance from the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center was the first to arrive on the scene and reported heavy fire and smoke from the southwest corner of the house. The first fire crews tried to extinguish the fire from the front door, but it was already burning heavily in the attic, the release said.
Crews inside the house were instructed to exit as a defensive plan of applying water began from the outside. Holes were cut in the roof and side gables of the house to apply water to the fire in the attic.
Firefighters had the fire under control in about 30 minutes.
Forest Avenue between Grand Avenue and Providence Road was closed during the fire.
The home is reported to be a complete loss, the release said. The home's owners valued the building at $40,000. Ford, the tenant, valued the contents at about $10,000.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 875-TIPS.