Officials believe Sanford fires work of arsonist

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SANFORD, Fla. - Firefighters had to return to a house that had caught fire in Sanford after the blaze reignited, authorities said Monday.

Police said two abandoned homes on Palmetto Avenue were set on fire over the weekend and they are working with the state fire marshal, as well as the area task force, to figure out whether the fires that they believe were arson are related.

"This is such a quiet, wonderful community. We've really loved our neighbors so to fear for them and worry for them, it's (scary) to think that someone puts your house in danger for no reason whatsoever."

Lucy Kees and Gerald Kees live directly across the street from the blaze that tore through the property. They said it has been empty and unattended for years.

“We all woke up and opened the blinds and sure enough the flames were shooting up past the trees,” said resident Lucy Kees. “Thank goodness we’ve had a lot of rain. If this would have been our dry season, I think all our houses would have been in danger."

Police are working to figure out if the cases have any relation to a handful of arsons from earlier this month when four fires were set in the same area to other vacant structures, including one that destroyed Sanford’s 130-year-old Little Red School House.

All the fires were within 5 miles of each other.

Residents are now worrying the arsonist could accidentally target a home that is occupied.

"How do they know what the abandoned ones are?" said resident Scott Gordon. "That's what we're thinking. How are they going to be able to tell if somebody's living in it?"

“There could be someone in there and they don’t know, or an animal inside or something. That’s pretty scary,” Tracy Sealey said.

There were a total of six fires in those previous investigations.

No one was hurt in any of the fires.

Residents said there have been plenty of complaints about the abandoned houses because of the unkempt yards.