PINELLAS PARK — A man was arrested on an arson charge early Saturday after he doused the side of a house with gasoline and set it ablaze in what he claimed was a prank gone awry, police said.
Joe Ray Walker Jr., 26, told police that he wanted to play a prank on a friend who was staying at the home at 7660 56th St. N, according to an arrest report. Walker came up to the south side of the house about 3:45 a.m. Friday and threw a cup of gasoline on the outside wall before lighting it on fire, police said.
The wall erupted into a fireball, police said. Walker panicked and ran away.
Firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze. Four people who were inside the house were unharmed, police said.
The man who owns the home said Saturday that the fire did not cause significant damage.
Pinellas Park police arrested Walker, of St. Petersburg, early Saturday on a charge of first-degree arson. He was held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.