Suspected Arsonist Sets 21 Fires in Florida

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. --

The Division of Forestry is searching for a St. Johns county arsonist who it believes has started 21 woods fires in the county in recent months. But investigators are without any leads.

"The investigator has no idea. We have no idea, so that's why we're reaching out to the public," Division of Forestry spokesman Greg Dunn said.

Investigators hope someone knows who is setting the fires and how they're doing it, because the brush fires keep happening in the same spot. They have burned a total of 30 acres off Brinkhoff Road, near Treaty Park in St. Augustine.

"Some of the fires have been a 10th of an acre. One or two of the fires were like 4 or 5 acres, so they're adding up in size," Dunn said.

It takes hard work to clear the area where a fire burns. Even when the flames are gone, workers must get through the ash to find the real heat source. When new fires are set next to old fires it can be tough to determine the cause.

"We're afraid that if a fire gets out of hand on a windy day like today that they won't be able to stop it," nearby homeowner Lucy Macer said Tuesday.

The threat of fire is troubling to residents and people in nearby buildings, including Dan Bookout, ministers to young children in a church in the area.

Bookout hopes the recent announcement of a $5,000 reward will provide an incentive for people to help investigators find the arsonist.

"Maybe I'll be out there hanging out on the weekends seeing what's happening. I wouldn't mind $5,000," he said.

The Division of Forestry suspects the arsonist is one person, but until the fires are put out, the area remains in danger. If you have any information about the arson fires, call 877-NO-ARSON or Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS.

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