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Butler Plaza Best Buy’s Solar Panels Caught Fire

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Updated, Tuesday at 6:07 a.m.: Gainesville Fire Rescue said a row of stores in Butler Plaza on Archer Road were evacuated Monday when solar panels behind a wing of the shopping center caught fire.

Black smoke appeared over Best Buy shortly after 2 p.m. Monday, leading to the store’s evacuation, along with PetSmart. Twenty-eight firefighters responded to the emergency.

Fire investigators said the fire was coming from a group of about 60 photovoltaic cells on a warehouse roof behind Best Buy and Petsmart. Because the panels produce electricity, the fire department used what’s known as a lobbing technique — basically intermittent jets of water streams — to prevent electrocution from traveling up the water streams to the firefighters.

No one was hurt, and later in the afternoon both Best Buy and Petsmart reopened. Damage to the photovoltaic cells and the warehouse roof is estimated at $75,000.

Original story, Monday at 3:30 p.m.:

The Best Buy on Archer Road in Gainesville caught fire this afternoon.

Gainesville Fire Rescue Department Fire Chief Gene Prince said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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