Deputies: Man calls 911 after setting house on fire in New Smyrna

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NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (AP) (AP)

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James Bates is jailed on arson charges Thursday, and it isn't the first time he's been arrested on those charges.

According to investigators, Bates admitted to setting at least six fires in the Volusia County area.

Investigators said Bates set a pile of papers on fire inside a vacant house. Deputies said he then waited until the fire burned through the roof and then called 911.

According to investigators he has been committing similar acts since the 1970s.

Investigators said they aren't sure how many homes Bates might have set on fire. The most recent house he is accused of setting fire to is on Saxon Drive in New Smyrna Beach. It is next door to his home.

"It's right next door. The, the, the fire is going right through the roof," Bates said in the call to 911.

Bates sounded surprised as he described the blaze to a dispatcher.

"These flames are going silly now, they're going crazy, like the whole, the whole roof is engulfed," said Bates to the 911 operator.

"Keep everyone away from the fire and we'll be out there shortly, OK?" said the operator.

"Alright, please come because this thing is really getting goofy," said Bates.

"Alright, they're on their way out there, thank you sir," the operator said.

Investigators said when firefighters arrived they found Bates sitting in a chair in his front yard, watching it all unfold while sipping a beer.

"I was sad to hear that and I was disappointed in our legal system that he was out and roaming about," said resident Peggie Painter.

Painter said she remembers Bates from a year ago. Bates set the clubhouse on fire behind her townhome and admitted to it. He said he was upset by something said to him at work.

"He needs psychological help, I think, so he didn't get it last time. Maybe this was yet another cry for help and he'll get help this time," said Painter.

Bates is being held on a no-bond status is charged with arson and burglary.

When bates was arrested a year ago, he told investigators that he had set close to a dozen fires in Florida and in Texas in the 1970s.