JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – No one was home early Tuesday morning when a house in Arlington went up in flames, according to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.
Firefighters were called to the home on Monty Lane, near North St. Johns Bluff Road and Interstate 295, about 6:30 a.m. Crews forced their way into the home and had the flames under control by 7 a.m.
JFRD District Fire Chief Frank Gillis said it appeared the home was illegally wired to a JEA meter box nearby, creating an added risk for crews fighting the fire.
"We didn't even notice because the grass was so high. Our guys were stepping over and had a hose going over it, which is very dangerous," Gillis said.
It's not clear how the fire began, but the State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating. Jacksonville Code Enforcement staff also plans to check the property.
A neighbor said the same house caught fire seven years ago.
Josh Logsdon said he woke up to the flames about 7:30 a.m. and his son was still asleep.
"I'm glad he wasn't awake to see it. He'd be freaking out," Logsdon said.
Not only is illegally wiring a home to JEA power dangerous, JEA said its customers pay the price when electricity is stolen. It’s illegal to tamper with or connect to an electric meter or power source. A violator could not only pay a fine, but JEA will also work with police on claims of fraud or meter tampering.