Thursday, May 24, 2018
Public safety

Back-to-back fires require razing 1904 Ybor City building, owner says

YBOR CITY— The new owners of a building where fire broke out two weekends in a row say they had hoped to remodel the 1904 building but now will tear it down for new construction.

Meantime, investigators are treating the two fires at the Ybor Resort & Spa as related, said Jason Penny, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman.

"This goes back to the original fire," Penny said.

Ariel Quintela, co-owner of the building, said the developers plan commercial space on the first floor at the site with three floors of apartments above it. The fires in the early morning hours of successive Saturdays, March 11 and March 18, scuttled plans to remodel the two-story building.

"It's scary and it's sad that anyone would do that," Quintela said, "It's hard to explain why but it's to the point that you know it's the same person; you know someone has a vendetta."

Quintela is a partner in Ybor Patio, which bought the building at 1512 E 8th Ave., on Feb. 8 and took possession March 8.

The Ybor Resort & Spa advertised as a gay-owned and gay-operated private men's club, resort and bathhouse.

The first fire occurred at 3:30 a.m. March 11 and caused an estimated $100,000 damage. It was ruled an arson after investigators determined an someone entered the vacant building illegally and set fires at a number of spots.

The investigation was still under way when the second fire broke out Saturday.

Anyone with information about the fires may contact the city Fire Marshal's Office at (813) 274-7000 or use the anonymous tips page at www.tampagov.net/arsontips.

Rewards of up to $2,500 or more are available for information leading to the identification of persons involved in arson fires.

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