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Teens spotted near vacant house prior to late night fire

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RICHMOND, Va. - Investigators are looking into whether a house fire was started by accident or if it was arson.

Investigators said there are several red flags in the case, including the fact a a group of teens was spotted close to the vacant house before it caught fire.

Neighbors called the Richmond Fire Department just before 12:30 a.m. to the house near the intersection of East 30th and Lawson Streets, on the city's Southside.

When crews arrived they found a one-and-a-half story home engulfed in flames.

The fire was beginning to spread to another vacant home next door.

Crews put the fire out within 30 minutes, before it could further damage the neighboring house.

Because of the suspicious nature of the fire, investigators are using a dog that can detect accelerants, to help figure out what sparked the fire.

"Certainly there a lot of questions that we want answers to especially with the fact that this being is a vacant house," Richmond Fire Department spokesman Shawn Jones said. "Whether there was somebody in there and may have accidentally knocked a candle over or maybe it was more to than just that."

The fire also created a safety concern for others in the neighborhood.

"The fire burning the line feeding from the pole to the house and obviously it created somewhat of a safety issue with the power line being down nearby the house," Jones said.

If you have any tips that could help investigators call the Richmond Fire Department at (804) 646-2500 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.