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State debates serial arsonist title with fire investigations

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Updated: 2/19 8:37 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Seven major fires have happened within a 2-mile area near Blanding Boulevard.

On Monday, BLC automotive was burglarized then set on fire. Video Empire went up in flames in early February, the Church of the Epiphany has burned four times since September, and a hotel under construction burned in October. All of the fires happened within 2 miles of each other, and Capt. Phillip Roman with the Florida Fire Marshal’s Office said it isn’t labeling the fires the work of a serial arsonist.

“Empire Video is an accidental fire. It’s not related to these fires. The automotive shop is going to be an intentionally-set fire, but it’s going to be unrelated to those fires actually at 103 St.,” said Roman.

The fire marshal’s office labeled two of the church fires incendiary. Randy Wyse, the president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters explained that some questions need answers before labeling the hotel and church fires the work of a serial arsonist.

“What they’re storing there. What’s the building used for? Is it occupied? When’s the last time it was occupied? So there is a litany of things they look at to determine whether it’s suspicious or not,” said Wyse.

The fire marshal’s office said the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has stepped up patrols in the area while they continue to investigate the string of fires.

The state fire marshal’s office said it’s not labeling the church and hotel fire the work of a serial arsonist, but authorities also haven’t ruled it out.
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