Arson suspected in Avalon Park community


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Three fires in a matter of two days has people living in the Avalon Park community on edge.

The Orange County Fire Department responded to the east Orange County neighborhood three times between Friday and Saturday morning to put out small brush fires. Investigators said they believe the fires were intentionally set.

"I had a pain in my chest it wouldn't leave. I thought I was going to die. It was horrible, horrible," said Charles Figueroa.

Figueroa said he woke up to his four dogs barking around 1:30 a.m. Friday. When he looked outside he saw flames burning 20-30 feet in the air in a wooded area across the street from him house.

"I looked and said, 'Oh my God, look at this,' So I grabbed the phone, called 911, grabbed the crates for the dogs to put them in the case. I've got to evacuate, you know?" said Figueroa.

Figueroa said firefighters were on scene for a couple of hours early Friday morning, putting the fire out on Carriage Lake and Cassia Drives.

A second, small brushfire was discovered around the corner from Figueroa's home that same morning. A homeowner's surveillance system captured a possible suspect and vehicle on camera. In the video, you can see a car pull up, park next to the woods and the driver turns the lights off. It then shows a man getting out of the car, walking into the woods and moments later what appears to be a fire is started.

Figueroa said the fire across from his house was reignited Saturday morning. He woke up again around 3:30 a.m to find firefighters back on scene.

"Whoever did this, I'm a retired police officer and I'm going to be watching, and if I catch somebody, I'm going to take it into my own hands," said Figueroa.

The Florida Division of Forestry is investigating the fires.

Saturday morning, an investigator posted flyers on trees in the area, warning people of an arsonist.

Anyone with any information on these fires is asked to call 800-342-5869. Callers may remain anonymous, and a $5,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.