SEMINOLE — It took hours of sweat equity, nearly a dozen classes and background checks to gain ownership of the Habitat for Humanity home.
Late Saturday night, all that work went up in flames.
A man who had an ongoing feud with the woman who lived at the house, at 8624 112th St. N, set it on fire while she was not home, authorities said.
The suspect, Paul R. Bowers, 52, of Madeira Beach had broken into the same house just last week, investigators said. And the woman who lived there had twice filed for protection orders against him, records show.
"This is not a happy day," said Barbara Inman, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County. "We never had arson at any Habitat house around the country. If so, I'm not familiar with it."
Bowers, arrested at his home and charged with arson, was being held in the Pinellas County Jail on $100,000 bail.
Bowers and the woman, Autumn June Kinney, were once a couple, said Marianne Pasha, a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman. She said deputies had spoken with Kinney and were trying to determine the origin and exact cause of the fire.
Kinney could not be reached by a reporter for comment.
According to Pinellas County Court records, she sought two protection orders for dating violence against Bowers.
On Nov. 18, 2009, a judge dismissed a request for a protection order at Kinney's written request.
Then on May 27, 2010, a judge denied her request for a protection order because the evidence presented was insufficient to allow the court to issue an injunction, court records said.
Pinellas jail records show that Bowers had been arrested in the county twice before. He was charged with battery in January 2008 and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in April 2007.
Investigators said Bowers was arrested last Thursday on burglary and property damage charges for breaking into Kinney's house. The next day, he used a bail bondsman to help post the $17,000 bail that allowed him to walk out of jail. A court date had yet to be set on those charges.
No injuries from Saturday night's fire were reported, but the home was substantially damaged, authorities said.
Kinney bought the nearly 1,300-square-foot house in August 2009 from the Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County for $150,000, according to the Property Appraiser's Office.
The amount of work required to purchase a home from Habitat for Humanity is extensive. The applicant must earn less than 80 percent of the median income. There are the 11 homeownership classes and 250 to 350 hours of work to put in. The potential owner must save approximately $1,000 to $1,500 for closing costs.
The process usually takes up to a year.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Demorris A. Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4174.