BENNINGTON - State police are investigating an indicent of arson that took place on Gage Street in Bennington early Sunday morning.

At approximately 3:16 a.m. Sunday morning, the Bennington Fire Department responded to a reported fire at 113 Gage Street, where they found smoke issuing from the rear of the four-unit apartment building. Three residents were outside, having already self-evacuated, and told first responders they believed there was still someone inside the building.

Members of the fire department forced entry into the residence, initiating a search while carrying both a 1 3/4" water hose and a back-up line with them into the apartment.

Three separate fires were found and extinguished within the residence. After locating an initial source of fire in the entryway, firefighters found two more fires, one in each of two bedrooms.

The fire was suppressed by 3:45 a.m. No one was injured as a result of the fire.

The press release from the Bennington Fire Investigation Unit names Kristin Long, 32, as the resident of the property, which suffered from $20,000 in damages, and was ruled a total loss. A second apartment was also vacant.

The Fire Investigation Unit of Vermont State Police was called in to perform an origin and cause investigation at the request of Chief Steve Crawford, due to the "obvious suspicious nature of the fire," according to BFD.

With assistance from investigators with the Division of Fire Safety, the cause of the fires was ruled on Sunday to be incendiary/arson.

"The investigation is still ongoing by the Bennington Police," said Asst. Chief Jeff Vickers, "It has been ruled arson but there's nothing else definitive as of right now."

BFD was assisted on the scene by the Bennington Rural Fire Dept., the Bennington Rescue Squad and the Bennington Police Dept.

Anyone with information regarding the events is asked to call VSP at 802-875-2112; BPD at 802-442-1030; or the anonymous Vermont Arson Tip Line at 800-32-ARSON (2-7766).