TAMPA — An East Ybor City home caught fire early Tuesday morning at 11th Avenue and 23rd Street. Authorities called the blaze "very suspicious" and said it may be the 19th in a recent rash of arsons in the area.
No injuries were reported, and it appears the home at 2308 E 11th Ave. is vacant, said Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Bill Wade. The fire began at about 5 a.m. and was extinguished in about 20 minutes.
The home had extensive damage, Wade said. The fire spread up to the roof, which was left gaping and charred.
Eighteen arsons were reported in the V.M. Ybor and East Ybor neighborhoods in the past year. All but four of the homes were vacant. Most were north of Interstate 4, but Tuesday's fire was south of the interstate.
Arson investigators canvassed the neighborhood searching for clues. "This would fall into the pattern we've been watching," Wade said. "This is the 19th."
He said an investigator with the recently formed arson task force — members include Tampa firefighters, police officers and officials from the Fire Marshal's Office — was patrolling the area an hour before the fire started.
There were no suspects Tuesday.
As firefighters cleared the scene, neighbors came outside to watch.
Julia Anderson, 54, lives a couple houses away. She shuffled out in her slippers and robe.
"This is scary," Anderson said. "I hope they catch whoever's doing this. It's a shame."