State Fire Marshal’s Office: Person of Interest in Recent Arsons

| June 29, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Investigators with the State Fire Marshal's Office said they have a person of interest in the eight recent vehicle and home fires on the Northside.

Eight suspicious fires were set on Jacksonville's Northside on two different nights just last week.

The first group of fires was set Thursday between 1 and 4 a.m. Investigators said four vehicles, an ATV and one vacant home were set on fire in a six-block radius in the area of Dunn Avenue and Florida State College at Jacksonville's North campus.

It's believed the fires were set intentionally.

The second string of fires occurred Saturday between 1 and 4 a.m. in the area of Dunn Avenue and the Lydia Estates subdivision on the Northside. Investigators said two vans were set on fire at the New Life Community Church, as well as a home in the Lydia Estates subdivision. The subdivision is across the street from the church.

Investigators said seven people were in the home Saturday night when it was set on fire. No one was hurt and the home was not a total loss.

"There's no such thing as coincidence when you have eight fires in a six block area. The obvious conclusion is they are probably related," said Lt. Robert Stephens with the State Fire Marshal's Office.

Overall, several hundred thousand dollars worth of damage was done in all eight arsons. The Fire Marshal has determined, through collected evidence, the causes of the fires but the details are not being released.

"There is an intent, you just don't know what that intent is. It could be something as simple as to cause hate and discontent, vandalism, it could be somebody's attempt at revenge. You don't know," Stephens added.

Witnesses reported seeing a young person riding a bicycle near the area where the arsons were committed. Investigators are looking to question this person.

"We want to know what is the person doing this thinking, because these are pretty serious. We are talking the potential for loss of life and the definite loss of property," Stephens said.

If you have any information about these fires, please call the Florida Advisory Commission on Arson Prevention at 1-877-NO ARSON. There is a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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Category: Church Security

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