• Man accused of multiple arsons in Lake County arrested, deputies say

    By: James Tutten

    Updated:

    LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A man accused of intentionally setting multiple fires in North Lake County was arrested Thursday, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

    Deputies said Altoona resident James Bennett, 48, was arrested at his home following months of investigation of a string of arsons.

    Bennett was charged with four counts of arson and two counts of armed burglary, deputies said.


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    Investigators said the arsons began in February with a string of fires over nine days that included a convenience store, a restaurant, two structures and a dumpster. 

    Rhonda Barker lives next to a mobile home that was set on fire.

    "It was scary when it all happened," said Barker. 

    Officials suspected Bennett early on in the investigation but it wasn't until a witness came forward with information that solidified their suspicions, according to the Lake County Sheriff's Office. 

    Lake County deputies said they worked with state fire marshals, firefighters and local police during their investigation.

    Deputies said Bennett was taken to the Lake County Jail with a bond of $300,000. Bennett's next scheduled court appearance was set Friday for May 13.

    Officials are still investigtaing the five other fires that were set and looking to see if Bennett is responsible in those cases.

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