Suspected arson fire causes major damage to American Legion Post 9

Investigators say Sunday morning blaze was set after break-in, theft

By Allyson Henning - Reporter, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It was arson. That's the finding from fire investigators checking into the commercial fire in Northwest Jacksonville around 7 a.m. Sunday that caused major damage to a veteran's organization.

About 10 to 12 firetrucks responded to the American Legion Post 9 building on New Kings Road.

No one was inside at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

Police believe the fire may was purposely started in the back of the building after a break-in and theft.

Now members of American Legion Post 9 are working to shake off the shock. 

"It's a nightmare that you never think will happen to you," said Lena Heredia-Perez, Post Commander for American Legion Post 9.

She said their building suffered extensive heat and water damage.

"(I) can't believe it's happening. I mean, the veterans in this community really rely on us. It's just overwhelming," Heredia-Perez said.

American Legion members are heavily involved in helping veterans and their families. They raise money for nonprofits and work with local kids.

Heredia-Perez said she doesn't know what will come next but she's counting her blessings and thankful that all her members are okay.

In the meantime, American Legion members are working on picking up the pieces and moving forward with the important work they provide to the veterans and the community.

"I have been the commander here for three years. We have come a long way. We are getting everything together and we are going to push forward, that's what we do. There's nothing that we cannot overcome. We are a close-knit family, so we will get through this," Heredia-Perez said.

So far there's no word of any suspects in the theft or arson.  

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.