MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – Miami Beach fire investigators are not only trying to determine if a fire in an empty building Tuesday night was arson but if it was in some way connected to three other fires in the city in the last couple of weeks.
The latest fire occurred in the 21-hundred block of Washington Avenue at the former Copley Terrace Apartments; the building has been empty for years. Firefighters from Miami Fire Rescue assisted Miami Beach firefighters in putting out fire and keeping the flames from spreading to any adjacent buildings.
On Monday, fire erupted in the city’s Collins Park neighborhood at the vacant Collins Plaza Hotel at 318 20th St.
Last Wednesday fire crews were called to a massive fire two blocks away at the vacant Tyler Apartments located at 420 21st Street.
The city is also looking into a garbage can fire on the city’s 34th Street boardwalk over the weekend that charred a pagoda.
While Miami Beach Fire investigators can not say for certain each fire was arson, they have very strong suspicions that they were.
“Another fire, it is very concerning,” said Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera as she surveyed the scene of the Washington Street fire which destroyed a building built in 1938. “It puts lives at risk, the residents lives and the firemen’s lives and its destroying the historic district here.”
The mayor said two of the fires were just blocks away from each other which raised a number of red flags.
“We are very concerned that it was arson,” said Herrera.
“Somebody is going to get hurt or burned bad,” said Lillian Deuso who lives in the area.
“”We’re not prepared to say all of these fires were deliberately set but that’s one of the alternatives,” said Assistant Miami Beach Fire Chief Javier Otero.
Otero said a standard investigation is underway in both cases, and results could take up to three months.
A reward of $3500 is being offered for information which leads to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for setting the fires.
Anyone with information on the fires is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS or the State Fire Marshal’s Office at (877) 662-7766.