Fifth Fire In A Week Tears Through Miami Beach Building

MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – For the fifth time in a week, fire crews rushed to extinguish a vacant building fire on Miami Beach.

On Wednesday night, a building on the 1800 block of James Avenue erupted in flames not far from where three other buildings were torched. Four Miami Fire trucks assisted Miami Beach units in putting out the flames.

The building was reportedly going under renovations at the time, and the person who started the fire somehow got around a security guard who was patrolling the property.

Fire officials believe a serial arsonist may be responsible for setting all of the fires.

On Tuesday night, the former Copley Terrace Apartments on the 2100 block of Washington Avenue at went up in flames.  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.

“”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.

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.


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