Bookstore fire arson, investigators say

Staff Report

Last update: 14 January 2004

DELAND -- His bookstore in ruins, Paul Swartz sat Tuesday morning on the curb with a collection of singed snapshots at his feet.

"A lot of my personal stuff was in the back room. It wasn't covered and it was totally irreplaceable," he said.

Someone set fire to Books and Company, 1328 N. Woodland Blvd., early Monday morning. Fire investigators are looking for answers.

Bank deposit money is missing from the store, Swartz said.

"This is a crime," said detective Juan Bailey, a spokesman for the state Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigation. "This building was intentionally set on fire and we'd like the public's help in identifying a suspect."

Firefighters from DeLand and Volusia County took a call at 1:22 a.m. Monday. By the time they arrived, the fire had already gutted the building.

"The heat had done most of the damage already," DeLand Fire Marshal Bill Wilkins said.

About $300,000 worth of books and other contents were destroyed, Bailey said. Swartz opened the bookstore on Nov. 28.

Anyone with information about Monday's fire is asked to call investigators at (800) 638-3473. A reward of up to $2,500 is being offered.