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Two St. Petersburg fires within blocks of each other called suspicious

ST. PETERSBURG — Two fires within blocks of each other early Monday are considered suspicious, officials said.

One fire was called in at 3:10 a.m. at the Gateway Mobile Home Park, 10100 Gandy Blvd. N. The second was called in at 3:27 a.m. at the Isles of Gateway apartments, 10600 Fourth St. N, about eight blocks away.

The St. Petersburg Police Department's arson investigator is on the scene.

The first call was for a fire at a maintenance building near the rear of the park. A man who lives about 10 yards from the structure said his crying cat woke him up, and he called 911 to report the blaze.

"I woke up and my living room was orange," said Jeff Althouse, 51. "You could have made a burger out here."

Althouse, who moved to the Mobile Home Park five years ago, said he began rapping on the walls and doors of his neighbors' homes and heard a lot of snapping and small explosions, followed by a loud boom, inside the burning structure. Neighbors worried about floating embers that fluttered around the park.

The second call was for three individual fires at the apartment complex — two on separate stairways and one in the mulch of a flower bed.

No injuries were reported at either fire.

"It does sound kind of strange … the second one was not accidental," said Assistant Fire Chief William Jolley.

Neither fire has been declared arson, he said, but the proximity of the two fires makes the second fire definitely seem suspicious.

The mobile home park is owned by Florida Manufactured Housing Association and is a 55-and-older community, according to the FMHA Web site. Isles of Gateway is owned by Capreit Apartment Homes, according to the Capreit Web site.

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Two St. Petersburg fires within blocks of each other called suspicious 11/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 16, 2009 11:39am]

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