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Arson fire victim woke to smell of gasoline, Orlando police say

Suspect faces attempted murder charges

ORLANDO, Fla. – A woman who was in a boarding home when it was intentionally set on fire said she woke to the sound of water flowing and the smell of gasoline, according to the Orlando Police Department.

The fire happened Feb. 15 at 536 West Washington Street around 7 p.m. and was immediately considered suspicious. Two victims were taken as trauma alerts to Orlando Regional Medical Center. One person jumped from the second floor, according to fire officials.

[RELATED: Man charged with arson, attempted murder after Washington Street house fire | 2 transported to hospital with severe burns after house fire, officials say]

Police said one of the victims had severe burns over most of his body and the other suffered significant burns as well.

A 27-year-old woman who was inside the home when it was set on fire said she was sleeping but woke up due to the sound of water running and the smell of gasoline, so she walked out of her room to see Robert Hendrix, 62, running down the stairs and a large gas can in front of her door, records show.

She then watched as Hendrix set a fire outside his bedroom, which quickly spread, according to the affidavit.

Police said there was security footage from a nearby church that showed Hendrix setting a fire on the back porch then running away.

An accelerant detection K-9 was brought in after the fire and alerted on a pile of clothes in Hendrix’s bedroom and a pile of clothes on the porch outside of his room, according to the affidavit.

Orlando Fire Department public information manager Ashley Papagni said Monday that Hendrix was arrested within 24 hours of the fire.

He’s facing charges of first-degree arson and five counts of attempted first-degree murder.

During a court appearance Tuesday, Hendrix yelled, “I’m not guilty, I’m not guilty” in front of the judge. His bond was set at $100,450.

He was ordered to not have any contact with the victims and witnesses and to stay away from the scene of the fire.


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