TAMPA — A judge set bail at $55,000 Sunday for the man suspected of setting almost half of the fires in the V.M. Ybor neighborhood that left residents living in fear for the past 18 months.
Kenneth Brian Smith's first appearance in court lasted only seconds as he stood in front of Circuit Judge Jack Espinosa Jr. via closed-circuit television from the Orient Road Jail. Smith, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with handcuffs around his wrists, made no comment.
He remained in jail Sunday afternoon, records show.
Smith, 43, was charged with the Jan. 29 arson at 1412 E 21st Ave. and is a suspect in another four fires at the same location, police Chief Jane Castor said on Friday. He is a suspect in a total of 13 fires, she said.
Smith was arrested Thursday in Chicago, where he waived an extradition hearing. He arrived in Tampa late Friday night and was booked into the Orient Road Jail on one count of arson and driving with a suspended license.
There have been more than 20 fires ruled as arson around Ybor City, officials said.