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    Mar 2001

    Post Polk County Fla--Suspected Arson Fire Destroys Vacant Club

    Officials: Arsonist may have set club fire


    LAKE WALES -- State officials say arson is believed to be the cause of a Wednesday evening blaze that destroyed a closed-up bottle club on U.S. 27, about four miles south of S.R. 60.

    The State Fire Marshal's Office has posted a reward poster at the site on the west side of the highway, since the agency is now conducting a criminal investigation.

    A spokesman for the office said the fire started "definitely" inside the building, with "an unknown type of flammable liquid." He said the damage was estimated at $80,000.

    Samples were sent to a lab to try to determine the type of liquid that was used.

    The spokesman said the 4,600 square-foot building was used for storage and had no electric service going to it.

    "We found burn patterns that indicated the fire was intentionally set," the spokesman added.

    Capt. Mike Linkins of the Polk County Fire Department, said because of the darkness, the relative isolation of the building and the fact it sat well off to the side of the road, the fire may have been burning for awhile before it was reported.

    Firefighters from several county fire stations came on the scene around 9 p.m.

    Although the first units were on the scene within five minutes after being called, "The building was well involved with fire by the time we got there, and it was a total loss," Linkins added. "We were hindered somewhat by the lack of hydrants and we had to rely on tankers, not that it would have made that big a difference in the outcome."

    Lake Wales Fire Department sent a tanker. Linkins said firefighters turned their attention to making sure the fire didn't spread to adjoining properties.

    He said the building had not been occupied "for at least a couple of years."

    More than 15 firefighters from Caloosa Lake, Alturas and Babson Park fire stations were on the scene. Linkins said the last fire unit cleared the scene shortly after 12:30 a.m.

    The Fire Marshal's Office is asking for information that may lead to an arrest. Anyone who can supply information is asked to get in touch with Investigator Rebecca F. Garrett at 534-0087.
    Last edited by captstanm1; 01-04-2003 at 10:40 AM.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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