Friday, December 15, 2017
Public safety

St. Petersburg police looking for clues in residential arsons

ST. PETERSBURG — Police suspect a serial arsonist is at work in the Causeway Isles neighborhood on the city's west side.

In the past 13 months, four vacant homes have been set on fire — the latest happening over the holiday weekend. Authorities are seeking the public's help in identifying any suspects.

Police were called to the latest fire at 7949 Second Ave. S just before 6 a.m. Sunday. Investigators determined someone intentionally set the fire from the inside. They also realized it was similar to an arson Oct. 16 at 199 79th St. S, one Sept. 4 at 181 79th St. S. and one Oct. 25, 2011, at 7909 Second Ave. S.

Because of the homes' proximity to each other and the way they were set, detectives believe the cases are related, police spokesman Mike Puetz said.

In the first fire last year, Puetz said, someone is believed to have entered the home while the occupants were away and set the fire. The home was a total loss.

In the Sept. 4 fire, a relative of the recently deceased occupant noticed that someone had set a fire outside near an air conditioning unit. It appeared to have self-extinguished before causing much damage.

In the Oct. 16 fire, a lawn worker discovered evidence of a fire on the screened porch. Authorities believe the arsonist set the fire but it also failed to catch.

In the latest fire, the homeowners were out of town, Puetz said. But one of their two dogs was found dead inside.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (727)-893-7780.

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