A suspicious fire that apparently started on the outside of a west Modesto home near a gas meter spread into the home’s attic Thursday afternoon.
Eighteen personnel from the Modesto Regional Fire Authority responded to the home at 811 Third St. about 1:30 p.m., Battalion Chief Randy Anderson said.
Investigators and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. personnel determined a gas meter near the home had been tampered with, although it is unclear whether that caused or contributed to the fire, Anderson said.
The blaze is considered suspicious and is under investigation.
Anderson said firefighters searched the home twice and found no one inside. A neighbor said the house had been vacant for three years and is frequented by squatters.
The fire caused an estimated $35,000 in damage.