Firefighters battle fire at abandoned business complex in North Austin

A fire tore through an abandoned business in North Austin early Monday morning. Investigators believe someone started the fire, and they’re trying to figure out who.

A passer-by called in the fire shortly before 5 a.m. at a former landscaping business complex in the 2100 block of Polaris Avenue, just off Burnet Road near US 183. The building was packed with very flammable landscaping supplies, setting up a dangerous situation for arriving fire crews.

"There was actually a lot of fire load within that building. And if you notice from the videos, the building is actually constructed of primarily cinder blocks, which creates a very high heat, high temperature area for the fire to grow in essentially with all the materials inside. So it was a lot of fire," said Rachael Lewis, a public information officer with the Austin Fire Department.

Despite those challenges, crews were able to get the flames knocked down within about 10 minutes. No one was inside the building when firefighters got there, but investigators later determined that the fire was started by someone. It’s just not clear exactly how.

"The cause is ‘undetermined incendiary’ because we found signs of human activity in the area, especially within the building. Mattresses and garbage and whatnot, which would lead us to believe, although the building was unoccupied, that there had been someone in the area," said Lewis. "We can't say if that was purposefully set or accidental from a warming fire or anything like that."

No one was hurt.

The Austin Fire Department says this is the time of year when fires like this become more common.

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Firefighters battled a fire on Polaris Ave. overnight. (Austin Fire Department)

"We see an increase in fires as the temperature gets colder just throughout, whether it be abandoned buildings or not. This type of weather increases the chances of people having space heaters, increases the chances of people having bonfires outside having warming fires. So we do see a bump in the statistics," said Lewis.

So far, no arrests have been made in connection with the fire. 

If you have any information that might be helpful to investigators, you’re urged to call the Texas Arson Hotline at (877) 434-7345.