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Early-morning fire in SLO destroys former home of Unity church

An early-morning fire Thursday in San Luis Obispo destroyed the building that was the former home of Unity church.

Initial reports of the fire came in at 3:30 a.m., according to San Luis Obispo Fire Chief Garret Olson. The first report said flames were shooting 10 feet out of the roof of the building at Johnson Avenue and Southwood Drive, Olson said.

When SLO firefighters arrived at the scene less than four minutes later, they found 15- to 20-foot-high flames shooting out of the structure, which was “fully involved,” according to Olson. He noted that, for flames to be jumping out of the roof like that, the fire had to have burned for a while before anyone noticed it.

At one point, about 40 firefighters from SLO, Cal Fire, California Men’s Colony, Atascadero Fire Department and Five Cities Fire Authority were on scene, Olson said.

It took about an hour and a half to get the fire under control, Olson said. No one was injured.

Johnson Avenue was closed to traffic until about 1 p.m., Olson said. The investigation into the fire is ongoing.

“Right now, we have no cause,” Olson said, adding that officials don’t have reason to speculate whether the fire was suspicious or not.

“It was a fire that started in the middle of the night with no witnesses.”

According to Olson, the building was occupied by a company that “did research and design on technology items.” The building previously housed Unity of San Luis Obispo, a church that moved out of the building in 2013.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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