Flames erupted Monday night at a Butler house that was vacant and without utilities since a damaging fire nine months ago.
The latest fire at 215 W. Diamond St. caused enough damage that city officials quickly moved to demolish it.
“Hopefully by noon,” Butler Fire Chief Nick Ban said earlier this morning, “it will be on the ground.”
Trooper Duwayne Baird of the state police fire marshal’s office in Butler sifted through debris and rubble but what started the blaze is unknown.
Authorities did not rule out one possibility — squatters.
“Neighbors told us they’ve seen squatters in and out the house for some time,” Ban said.
Monday’s fire was reported about 7:45 p.m. at the two-story house with an attic. By the time firefighters got there, flames already had taken over.
“There was a tremendous column of smoke,” Ban said. “Fire was blowing out the basement and first floor.”
The condition of the house, condemned after the fire in January, prevented firefighters from making an interior attack.
Instead, Ban said, the top priority was stopping flames from spreading to houses — just feet away — on either side.
Firefighters helped evacuate a family of three adults and four children living at 213 W. Diamond St., while crews battled the blaze with hand lines around the house afire.
The department’s ladder truck was deployed to help fight the blaze from above.