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I apologize for using Evil necromancy to revive a long-dead thread.
The other day, I found an interesting tidbit on page 456 of the CRB:
"Many area effects describe only the effects on creatures in the area. The GM determines any effects to the environment and unattended objects."
This which reminded me of this thread and the discussion surrounding collateral damage. Turns out the game more or less handles it like I wanted it to after all, which was a pleasant surprise to be sure. Fireballs do in fact destroy unattended chairs (unless the GM is a hardass about it).
The only reason I bring this up is to the benefit of future 2E GMs who stumble onto this thread - it took me two years before I even found this passage after all.
EDIT: Wait... Did Lethe really bring up this passage on the second comment??? How did I miss that back then??? Then why did I even...? Anyway, don't mind me, carry on.