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St. Petersburg early morning fire deemed arson

ST. PETERSBURG — For the second time in a month, someone tossed a bottle filled with flammable liquid through the window of a home on 15th Avenue S.

The first incident caused little damage. The second gutted Lolita Lewis' bedroom.

The bottle was thrown before dawn through the hospital worker's bedroom window, Lewis said, and "burnt my stuff to a crisp." No one was home at the time.

Deputy Fire Marshal Joel Granata said Monday morning's fire was intentionally set but would not confirm how. The 1,550-square-foot home, valued at about $148,000, had about $60,000 in damage.

Police investigated a May 23 arson at the home at 3090 15th Ave. S, but no one was arrested, said police spokesman George Kajtsa. Fire investigators determined that a flaming projectile probably was used in that arson. It was tossed through one of Lewis' son's bedroom windows.

Hours after the 5 a.m. blaze, Lewis' charred and waterlogged belongings were piled in an alley as Red Cross workers prepared to help her find new clothes. Lewis was at work when the fire was started, on the late shift as a patient-care technician at Bayfront Medical Center.

Her sons, Jimmie, 12, and Jamarcus, 14, were with their father when the fire began. The fire did not spread past her bedroom, she said.

Firefighters put it out quickly and Lewis, for the second time, arrived home to find police and firefighters at her house.

"If I was here, I might have been able to have saved my stuff," she said. "It landed right on my bed, so I might have been able to put it out."

Lewis said she has no insurance. As evening approached Monday, she said her family's only options for shelter were to stay with relatives or with the Red Cross.

"I don't know," she said. "I'm still trying to figure out where I'm going to stay."

St. Petersburg early morning fire deemed arson 06/29/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 29, 2009 10:01pm]
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