Investigators attribute two fires at same Cape address to arson
Authorities are seeking information about two arson fires that occurred within weeks of one another at the same apartment building in Cape Coral.
Fire and police units responded to a fire at 4807 Atlantic Court, Apt. 3, at about 12:55 a.m. Tuesday. According to the police report, one witness told police that he heard two unknown people talking outside of his window. When the man went outside to take a look, he saw two shadows run off and then noticed that the building next door was on fire.
The man grabbed a fire extinguisher from his apartment building and went next door. The report states the man put out the fire, then called police.
Paul Rich, of 4813 Atlantic Court, Apt. 6, told officers that he was in his apartment when he heard the sound of glass breaking. Rich ran outside to see what was going on and observed his neighbor putting out a fire at the building next door. He told police that he did not hear or see anyone else.
“Other than the fact there was a lot of smoke, there wasn’t a lot of obvious flames that I could see,” Rich said, adding that his neighbor told him that the “flames were up to the ceiling.”
“The duration of the entire event was pretty short,” he said.
The sound Rich had heard was his neighbor breaking the glass to reach the fire extinguisher. Rich explained that when he got outside, there was a large amount of smoke coming from an area of the building, and he initially thought it was coming from a nearby Dumpster. He then realized it was the building.
Fire units removed a “completely burnt” couch from the apartment, Rich said. It appears the toasted furniture had been located in the living room.
Detective Adam Rivero of the State Fire Marshal’s Office reported that Tuesday morning’s fire is the second fire to occur at the same structure. Fire units responded to the apartment at 2:20 a.m. July 26. In both cases, the fire originated within Unit 3 of the four-plex apartment building.
“Both fires were deemed intentionally set and therefore an arson investigation was initiated,” he said. “Both cases are still under investigation.”
Rivero explained that during the course of the fire investigations, officials ruled out all possible accidental causes. The cases also possess “evidence of support of an arson fire,” he said, declining to provide any further specifics.
“The investigations are ongoing,” he said.
The first fire caused about $40,000 in damage, a “substantial” amount of damage, Rivero said. The building was considered a loss and deemed unlivable. The second fire caused a “very minimal” amount of damage, about $100.
“The entire building location is vacant,” he said. ‘Thank goodness for that.”
No one was injured in either incident.
Authorities are seeking information about the fires. Anyone with information can contact the arson hotline at (877) NO-ARSON (662-7766). Any tip that leads to an arrest in either case is eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,500.
“We are trying to actively investigate these and follow up on leads,” Rivero said. “Hopefully, we’ll end this case with the successful prosecution of the individuals responsible.”