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Owner of million dollar home suspects arson as cause of Sunday fire

Winter Park fire chief says fire is suspicious

WINTER PARK, Fla. – An under-construction Winter Park home caught fire and burned Sunday afternoon, causing an estimated $200,000 worth of damage, according to the city of Winter Park. The lakeside home's owner suspects foul play.

Firefighters were able to contain the damage to the ground floor of the home on Fawsett Rd. 

The house, which is located on Lake Sue of the Winter Park Chain of Lakes, has been vacant and under construction for the past 18 months. According to homeowner Missy Hewitt, the property is valued at more than $1 million.

Winter Park Fire Chief Dan Hagedorn said the fire is considered suspicious. The department is investigating alongside the state fire marshal.

Hewitt said the fire was purposely set.

According to Hewitt, a propane tank with the valve left open was found placed on top of trim pieces within the house. She said none of the contractors or subcontractors were using a propane tank.

Hewitt's builder said when workers left the construction site at 4 p.m. Saturday, there was no propane tank on site.

Hewitt said investigators discovered three to four points of origin for the fire.

Hagedorn could not say if arson was definitely the cause. He said since the construction site is unsecured, anyone could have had access to it.

Investigators are speaking with all contractors and subcontractors involved to determine who had access to the site, Hagedorn said. He said samples taken from inside the house were sent to a fire lab in Ocala, which should provide answers in the next 24 to 48 hours.

A firefighter who entered the home Sunday to put out the fire fell through the floor and into the basement but was unhurt and continued to fight the fire, Hagedorn said.

Hewitt had planned to move into the home in January.


About the Author:

Erik von Ancken

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.

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