State Fire Marshal investigates Westside fires

Section of Westside and Argyle on alert after 3 'suspicious' fires

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A section of the Westside and Argyle are on alert after three fires that are all suspicious and happened within weeks of one another.

"That's kind of crazy actually, for three of them, all in one little area. I know I live in the apartments right behind this and I've never seen a fire like that in my life," said Dan Prew.

Prew lives right behind a hotel that's under construction. The hotel burned just days ago. It was the third in the area to catch fire in the past month.

In late September, both a Bennigans restaurant and the Epiphany Episcopal Church near 103rd and 295th were set on fire.

The State Fire Marshal is investigating all of them as suspicious fires.

"I hope it's not something that's real bad because I own my house over on Delisle Drive and I hope no one burns it down, because I don't have homeowner's insurance," said Michael Mclnarnay.

Channel 4 Crime Analyst Ken Jefferson said the State Fire Marshal's office will look at everything, from accelerants used to possible surveillance video in the area, to determine who's doing this.

"Whatever information that they collect, they have to keep it pretty close to the vest. Simply because they don't want to give notice to the arsonist that they're on to them," said Jefferson.

Jefferson warns neighbors that if they live or work in the area, they should be alert for any suspicious people or activity.

"What business owners in the area need to do is be very, very vigilant because they could have a serial arsonist on their hands that's randomly picking places to start fires," said Jefferson.

People with information about the fires are being asked to contact the State Fire Marshal tip line at 1-877-662-7766.

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