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$20,000 in Rewards Offered in Summerfield Fires


TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Treasurer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher announced today that up to $20,000 in rewards is being offered for information identifying an arsonist who in the past year has burned five Summerfield homes -- two of them more than once.

The homes, all located on either S.E. 147th St. or S.E. 86th Court in Lexington Heights Mobile Home Park, were vacant. There have been no injuries reported.

"Someone knows who is setting these fires," Gallagher said. "We hope the reward will motivate them to talk before someone does get hurt."

The reward of up to $2,500 per incident is offered through the Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention (FACAP), which includes investigators with the Division of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations. The bureau is working with the Marion County Sheriff's Office and Marion County Fire Department in investigating the fires.

There are three separate owners of the homes in Lexington Mobile Home Park, but the fires have targeted the homes in the Lions Mobile Home Park section only. There have been three other fires in the immediate area, but it has not been determined if those fires are related.

The first fire occurred more than a year ago on Jan. 6, 2001. The home was replaced, and then the new home was burned on Sept. 26 and Dec. 30. A wood-frame efficiency apartment also was burned twice, first on Sept. 4 and again on Jan. 4. Other fires occurred Dec. 24, Jan. 2, Jan. 6, and Jan. 13.

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NO ARSON). Information also may be mailed to Arson Control, P.O. Box 1654, Winter Park, FL, 32790.