TAMPA — A fire early Wednesday at a vacant home in the V.M. Ybor neighborhood is being called arson — the 20th in the area reported in just over a year.
Tampa police Sgt. Christopher Ugles said a neighbor noticed flames coming from the home at 2924 N 11th St. about 4:30 a.m. and called authorities. No one saw how the fire started, Ugles said.
Fire investigators know it was started inside the house, where an accelerant was poured. A state fire marshal dog that was trained to detect accelerant fumes was brought to the scene.
Investigators don't know if gasoline or kerosene was used. That will take lab work and several weeks, said Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade.
Firefighters put out the fire in about 20 minutes. The boarded-up home had a few charred spots outside and inside.
No one was injured. Property records show the home, valued at about $25,000, belongs to Tashia Walker of Texas.
Ugles said the location of the house fire raises suspicion, considering the neighborhood's rash of arson. Wade said it's within a five-minute walk of most of the other fires in the V.M. Ybor neighborhood.
The arson task force is aiding in the investigations. The task force has received a few tips, but none has panned out, Wade said.
Some fires were set in the middle of the night and others during the day. All but four targeted vacant homes.
Wade said many were set with garbage and debris outside — or under — the wood-framed homes, and others were sparked with debris inside unsecured properties.
The task force asks anyone with information about the fires to call the arson tip line at (813) 274-7133 or communicate online at tampagov.net/fire.