Meeting held in Sanford over suspicious fires

9 suspicious fires investigated in last month

By Sheli Muniz - Reporter

SANFORD, Fla. - Sanford city leaders held a meeting Wednesday night to answers residents' questions and to provide some relief after nine fires in the past month that are believed to be suspicious.

All of the homes have been vacant, but even an historic schoolhouse was torched. Police said it's the work of a serial arsonist. However, people said they are worried their home could be next.

"You never know when it is going to escalate," said Sanford resident Tammy Aginini.

"Even the smallest bit of information is important to us," Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith told those in attendance at the meeting.

"Some of the houses have been very close to me and it's very scary to think that somebody is out there just setting fires for fun," said Aginini.

Naturally, residents like Tammy Agnini had a lot of questions, like what about cameras? Is there a pattern? And could their homes be next?

"It's a viable concern, but we want people to understand that we have not seen any occupied properties being touched," said Smith.

"It's like they are deliberately picking houses that aren't taking the whole block out," said resident Hank Dieckhaus.

He said he is angry because he lives across from a vacant home.

"Today it's an abandoned house, tomorrow is a house that they think is empty. Maybe the next time they escalate -- it's, 'Well, nobody was home, we don't think,'" said Aginini.

"It is difficult to get into the minds of someone who is actively destroying properties," said Smith.

In the meantime, agents said they have extra patrols and even federal agents on the investigation.

Anyone with information is urged to call 877-NoArson or 800-423-TIPS.

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