Friday, May 25, 2018
Public safety

'Suspicious' fire at home previously targeted by arsonist

ST. PETERSBURG — Authorities were investigating the cause of a small fire that started Thursday night outside a St. Petersburg house that authorities say was previously the target of a serial arsonist.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze about 7:45 p.m. at the vacant home at 181 79th St. S. The cause was not immediately known, but St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Granata described the fire as "suspicious."

A fire at the home Sept. 4 was determined to be arson, according to police. Detectives believe that fire was the work of a serial arsonist who has struck at least four homes in the Causeway Isles neighborhood on the city's west side since October 2011.

On Nov. 25, someone started a fire from inside a house at 7949 Second Ave. S while the homeowners were out of town, police said. One of their two dogs was found dead inside.

That fire was similar to the Sept. 4 arson, which was reported by a relative of the recently deceased resident, who noticed that someone had ignited the outside portion of an air-conditioning unit, police said. It appeared to have burned out before causing much damage.

On Oct. 16 a lawn worker found the remnants of a fire on the screened porch at 199 79th St. S. Authorities believe the arsonist set the fire but it also failed to catch.

The first fire occurred Oct. 25, 2011, at 7909 Second Ave. S. Someone is believed to have entered the home while its residents were away and started the blaze, police said. The home was a total loss.

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