Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Teen charged with arson in Tampa house fire

TAMPA — At first, the 16-year-old appeared to be just another curious neighbor watching authorities investigate an early-morning house fire. He chatted with a few fire officials and walked up and down the street, shirtless, taking in the action.

But when one investigator started asking Michael Craig what he knew, the investigator noticed inconsistencies in the teen's statements. Fire officials decided to bring him in for questioning, and that's when he confessed, said Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Bill Wade.

They charged Craig with burglary and arson in the fire at 2706 E 18th Ave. Investigators believe Craig entered the home before dawn and set a couch on fire using a lighter. The teen lives next door to the home, fire officials said.

A few hours after the fire, Craig was walking on the street in front of the house. He slapped hands with a neighbor, saying that he had to go to the police station to take a polygraph test and that he would be back in a few hours.

Wade said he spoke with Craig at the scene. It was just small talk, nothing unusual. The fire rescue spokesman said he often speaks with inquisitive neighbors.

He said he's surprised that Craig was so chatty but not that the boy hung around the scene.

"Sometimes arsonists set a fire because they want to see the excitement that they caused and the damage that they caused," Wade said.

The fire caused about $60,000 in damage. No one was injured.

Investigators said they had no information connecting Craig to other arson fires in the area.

The house is not far from Tampa's V.M. Ybor neighborhood, the site of a string of about 20 arsons that led to the July arrest of Kenneth B. Smith, who is suspected in 12 of those fires.

Firefighters had the blaze under control within 30 minutes. The property is owned by WHP Investments LLC Trustee, according to property records. All of the windows in the front were blown out, and the roof was charred.

The house was frequented by squatters, said Wayne Robinson, 47, who lives next door.

"That's just a bad scene there," he said.

Robinson said he woke up early Wednesday and heard breaking glass outside his house. He looked out the window and saw an orange glow coming from inside the building. By the time he called 911 and notified neighbors, flames were visible outside the building.

Times staff writer Andy Boyle contributed to this report.

Vacant house burns in Tampa

View Larger Map

Teen charged with arson in Tampa house fire 08/18/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 11:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Polk sheriff: Gibsonton man sent child porn to Bay News 9 anchor


    A 20-year-old Gibsonton man has been indicted on federal charges after authorities said he repeatedly sent child pornography to a news anchor for Bay News 9.

    Marchaun Browning, 20 of Gibsonton, was indicted on federal charges, accused of sending child pornography to a news anchor for Bay News 9 using Twitter. [Courtesy of Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. 5 things to do under $5: Type artists, shuffleboard, toy train show, Wildflower Walk


    1 Letterheads Typefest: The muralists who run Illsol Space, a gallery in Tampa Heights, said their respect for handmade fonts and sign painting techniques moved them to curate this exhibit featuring type-based muralists, hand-style lettering designers, sign painters, letterpress studios and type designers. …

    Colm O’Connor, a Dublin sign writer, is among the 22 artists featured in the Letterheads Typefest exhibit at the Illsol Space gallery.
  4. Foundation Partners buys Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home


    ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.

    Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Apollo Beach woman dies while scalloping in Crystal River


    An Apollo Beach woman died on Monday while scalloping with her husband in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Crystal River, according to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.