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Citrus digest

By Times staff reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001

Firefighters still monitor remnants of last week's fire

FLORAL CITY -- State and county firefighters continued to monitor smoldering remnants of a fire that consumed 1,200 acres of swampland in southeastern Citrus County last week. Citrus County's Public Safety Department continues to receive numerous phone calls from residents reporting smoke near Lake Tsala Apopka. Investigators believe the fire was started by sparks coming from an old pickup that was driven through dried lakebed.

Pet store owner, alleged accomplice charged in arson

CRYSTAL RIVER -- Citrus County sheriff's deputies have arrested both the owner of Absolutely Pets and the man she allegedly hired to set fire to her old store. Susan Joan Mather, 44, of 7742 S Four Oaks Drive, Floral City, the owner of Absolutely Pets in Crystal River, and William Ernest Fogg, 25, of 7880 W Fern Place, Homosassa, were arrested Thursday on an arson charge. Mather also is facing charges of arson resulting in injury, submitting a false insurance claim and conspiracy. According to arrest reports, witnesses told investigators Mather drove Fogg to her business, then at 6825 W State Road 44. She pointed out her store and gave him the keys, along with instructions on how to set the fire and make it look like a burglary. Mather subsequently submitted an insurance claim estimating losses in excess of $31,000 from the fire that also caused an estimated $40,000 in damage to the strip plaza, which she did not own. Fogg confessed his role to investigators, the arrest reports indicate. In an interview the day after the fire, Mather told the Citrus Times that she had moved most of her animals out of the store.

Inverness election to fill vacant City Council seat

INVERNESS -- Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today for Inverness elections. Voters will select either Kenneth Chadwick or Richard "Dick" Kaufman for the City Council's vacant Seat 2 and decide whether to approve two charter amendments that clarify language about the city manager's responsibilities. Registered voters who live in Inverness should bring a photo ID to cast their ballot at City Hall, at Main Street and Seminole Avenue. Results will be announced at City Hall by 7:30 p.m.

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