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Three fires in one day strike Ybor City

TAMPA — Already beset by a string of arsons over the past year, Ybor City became the scene of three more house fires Tuesday -- two of them intentional.

Tampa firefighters and investigators are currently on the scene of the latest fire, at 1704 E. 19th Ave. While investigators have not said what caused Tuesday afternoon's fire there, the single-story, woodframe house was the scene of two fires ruled arson late last year, records show.

Authorities have been watching the house from time to time because of the earlier arsons, said a neighbor, Ernest Williams, 67.

Investigators have linked more than 20 arsons in about a year in and around the V.M. Ybor neighborhood. The two earlier fires at the home — on Oct. 31 and Dec. 8 — were among them.

Two other fires earlier Tuesday in Ybor were ruled arson, but investigators believed the are not linked to the others.

Sam Venzeio, a spokesman for the state Fire Marshal's Tampa division, said he could not reveal how officials reached that conclusion, citing the ongoing investigation.

Those house fires occurred about an hour and 40 minutes and 5 miles apart early Tuesday. Investigators have not determined if the two fires were related to each other.

Tampa Fire Rescue responded to the first fire, at 2406 E 20th Ave., around 2 a.m., finding flames coming from the vacant single-story house.

The blaze, which did not spread from the house, caused around $40,000 in damage. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters responded to the second fire around 3:45 a.m. at 414 E. Hamilton Ave. The blaze, extinguished in about 20 minutes, caused about $80,000 in damage. No injuries were reported.

In the third fire, firefighters got the call at 5:35 p.m. When they arrived, the home — still boarded up from the earlier fires — was 75 percent involved, Fire Rescue said.

The home, which records show was built in 1930 and was valued for taxes at $28,000, was vacant.

After the fire was contained, its white paint was scorched to charcoal-black around the front door.

An arson task force was on the scene to determine the cause.

Times staff writers Katie Sanders, Danny Valentine and Jessica Vander Velde contributed to this report.

Three fires in one day strike Ybor City 06/08/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 8:05pm]
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