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    Break-ins might hold key to fire

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001


    SAFETY HARBOR -- Pinellas County sheriff's officials say reports of break-ins at an abandoned house that burned Monday could shed new light on the case.

    "There have been reports of transients breaking in and staying there from time to time," said Sgt. Greg Tita, sheriff's spokesman. "Besides that, it is very much an open investigation; and arson is believed to be the cause of the fire."

    Firefighters from around the county were called to the three-story house at 3696 Enterprise Road to battle the early-morning blaze in which no one was injured.

    After the fire, flammable liquids and accelerants were detected and sent to a lab for identification. Results of the tests were not available, Tita said.

    The house and the property it sits on are owned by the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, which purchased it in December 2000. The diocese also owns the Espiritu Santo Catholic Church at 2405 Philippe Parkway, across the street from where the fire occurred.

    Bill Urbanski, spokesman for the diocese, said no specific plans had been made for the property.

    "The plan was to knock it down, but we held off because we had an interested tenant who said they were going to make the needed repairs," he said. "We are awaiting a letter from the fire marshal. Once they complete their investigations we will raze the building."

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