Fire causes $80,000 in damage to empty home

By Enrique Heredero

MERRITT ISLAND -- A suspicious fire caused $80,000 worth of damage to a home Saturday afternoon despite a light drizzle that dampened roadways across Brevard County.

The house, at 1705 Westport Road off North Banana River Drive, was vacant for about a year, said District Chief Darron Murray of Brevard County Fire Rescue.

When firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after 3:54 p.m., flames engulfed about 75 percent of the home. Fifteen firefighters extinguished the blaze about 45 minutes afterward.

Windows were smashed and soffits, which are extensions of the roof, dangled in front of the home.

Neighbors told fire officials they saw children leaving the house earlier that day, and suggested they may have caused the fire.

Nobody was injured and no other homes in the area were damaged.

"Last week, people were measuring the house, sneaking out the car and jumping back in. Today, it mysteriously catches fire," said Joe Kistler, a neighbor.

"It's weird. People jumping out of the car, measuring the yard and leaving. I've also noticed a lot of transients going in and out of the home in the past year," Kistler said.

Murray did not know the cause of the fire, but called it suspicious. He said a state fire marshal would investigate.

The home is worth $177,470, according to the Brevard Property Appraiser's Office.