2 women, 2 dogs escape from Lakeshore house fire

Investigators say fire could be result of arson

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A fire that apparently started in the garage of a home on Lake Shore Boulevard on Wednesday morning consumed the house, but Jacksonville firefighters say two women and their two dogs made it out of the house safely.

Jacksonville firefighters reported heavy fire showing when the first units arrived just before 8:30 a.m.

The women who escaped said they heard an explosion and tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher, but it didn't work. Then the car parked in the carport exploded, they said.

It took about 25 minutes for firefighters to put the fire out. No surrounding homes were in danger.

The women said they will stay with neighbors while damage is accessed and the state Fire Marshal's investigation continues on how the fire started.

IMAGES: Images of explosion, fire, damage

Alan Lesley, the homeowner who was not home when the fire started, said he thinks foul play is involved. He said a month ago someone broke into the carport and he roughed him up. At that point, Lesley said, the man said he'd be back.

In between that incident and the fire, Lesley said one of his cars was broken into. Both times, he filed a police report.

The state Fire Marshal's Office confirmed the fire did start in the carport, and it could be a case of arson.

"I just thank God that all of us were all fine and they got my two babies out, Tebow and Gracie," homeowner Jan Vath said.

The house was almost a complete loss. When investigators are done at the scene, Vath will be left with the job of trying to see what he can salvage.

Because the fire was so large, JFRD had Lake Shore Boulevard at Attleboro Street still closed after noon.