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String of suspicious fires adds to worries
By ROBERT FARLEY
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 25, 2000
PALM HARBOR -- A spate of recent fires thought to have been set by juveniles in the Lake St. George area has Palm Harbor firefighters concerned.
The latest, a brush fire on Wednesday afternoon, blackened a half acre of vacant land under some power lines off Lake St. George Boulevard.
The first call to firefighters on Wednesday came from a passing motorist on a mobile phone who reported the fire at 4:23 p.m. Firefighters quickly brought the fire under control, but it burned to within a couple of hundred feet of homes on Langstaff Drive.
It was the eighth suspicious fire set in that immediate area since March, said Ron Gray, a district chief with Palm Harbor Fire and Rescue.
Although no property has been damaged, firefighters worry that with the lack of rain this year, a tragedy could be just around the corner.
"Everything is real dry," said Jim Fletcher, a fire inspector with Palm Harbor Fire and Rescue. "There is going to be a real problem if one gets going. This area backs up to a number of houses."
While the cause of Wednesday's fire has not yet been determined, Fletcher said, the origin of many of the others has. Some were set by lighters, others by fireworks. Juveniles seen near the area before some of the fires were started are thought to have set them, he said.
"We are trying to get ahold of the problem," Fletcher said.
Wednesday's fire was started just off Lake St. George Drive in an area with thick brush, tall grass and some trees.
It's an area where kids play and there is easy access to the woods, Gray said.
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