Fatal Florida Fire Ruled Arson


After a week of investigating a house fire that killed a man and his two dogs, the state fire marshal announced the blaze was intentionally set.

A Northside man and dogs were found dead last Wednesday after flames engulfed his home on Kitler Road.

Investigators have now ruled the fire arson.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Northside community where the fire took place was filled with questions and with grief over the death of a friend and neighbor that they said they wouldn't soon forget.

"He's the type of person that would give you the shirt off his back, and I don't know him to have any enemies," said neighbor Bobby Strickland.

Police have not yet released the name of the victim, but Strickland and Allen Ryals said the man who died in the fire was Bruce Leeds. They said they knew him very well.

"He was a very loving guy. He'd do anything in the world for anybody. I'd do anything in the world for him," Ryals said.

The men said they would often see their neighbor walking his two mixed-breed dogs in the community. They said he adopted the pets from the Humane Society.

"That was his life. That was his kids, and they loved him to death," Ryals said.

"He's a super nice older guy -- generous to a fault. I have nothing but good things to say about the man," Strickland said.

Neighbors said there hasn't been a funeral for Leeds but that they are planning to have memorial service outside of his home on Saturday afternoon.

Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances of the man's death.

Copyright 2008 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.