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2 more possible arson fires reported in Lake County

Fires at home, dumpster most recent in string of incidents

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Two more arson investigations are underway in Lake County, bringing the total number of suspicious fires in the area recently to nine.

Lake County Fire Rescue officials said they responded to an abandoned mobile home on State Road 19 in Umatilla at about 4 p.m. on Monday to find the home fully involved. Crews were able to quickly extinguish the flames.

"My first thought was my wife. I have to make sure she’s safe," said Brian Carter, who lives next door.  "As we come around the corner, we seen smoke pouring out, and we immediately thought, 'What’s going on?'"

His sister-in-law, Angel Phillips, said she was on her way to make sure everyone was safe when she saw a second fire at the Save-A-Lot grocery store on North Central Avenue.

"I saw the dumpster on fire, so I whipped her back around, and I went to the front of Save-A-Lot and told them their dumpster was on fire," she said.

No one was injured in either of the fires on Monday.

Details on both incidents have been forwarded to the county's newly developed arson task force and the State Fire Marshal's office.

"We’re always ready, but this (has) you more alert," said Lake County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Michael Cordle. "We’re thinking, 'When is the next time?' And hopefully there isn't a next time."

Multiple fires have been reported in the Umatilla area since Feb. 17. The fires have affected homes, businesses and vehicles, including two that belonged to a deputy.

On Friday, authorities released videos of a man wanted in connection with the fires. One video showed him sparking a lighter or match inside a Sunoco and another showed him lurking around a restaurant that later caught fire.

The Lake County fire chief is asking anyone with information about the fires to call 877-NO-ARSON.


About the Authors:

Adrienne Cutway

Adrienne Cutway joined News 6's digital team in October 2016 to cover breaking news, crime and community interest stories. She graduated from the University of Central Florida and began her journalism career at the Orlando Sentinel.

Erik Sandoval

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013. He is one of the station’s lead reporters. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

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