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Fire damages four vehicles in driveway

By Staff | Aug 14, 2010

Authorities are investigating an incident involving four vehicles that were deliberately set on fire early Friday morning outside of a Cape Coral home.
Fire units responded to a 911 call at about 3:30 a.m. at 1425 N.E. Sixth Place that was initially reported as a residential structure fire. According to Connie Barron, a spokeswoman for the city, the caller reported seeing black smoke and orange flames but was unsure if the fire involved a residence.
When the units arrived, they found three vehicles on fire in the driveway of the home. They were a 2003 Jaguar sports car, a 1992 Toyota Corola and a 1996 Dodge Caravan. All three sustained heavy damage while a second 1996 Dodge Caravan sustained minor damage from exposure to the burning three.
No injuries were reported. The State Fire Marshal’s Office was investigating the case Friday with the assistance of the Cape police and fire departments.
Lt. Joe Minervini, a spokesman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, reported Friday that Detective Ed Blanco had determined the fires were arson-related.
“It was four vehicles that were intentionally set on fire,” he said. “They used an inflammable liquid poured in on the vehicles.”
Minervini said investigators are looking into possible suspects in the case.
“We do have some people of interest that we’re looking at, and that’s what we’re doing right now,” he said. “We’re still working on it.”
Those found responsible would be facing arson charges, Minervini added.
Roberto Ramos, a resident of 1425 N.E. Sixth Place and the owner of the Jaguar, said he was home when the incident occurred. Ramos was sleeping when his mother heard tires squealing and went outside. Margarita Lopera discovered the cars on fire and ran into the house yelling, waking her son.
“She comes inside screaming,” Ramos said.
He ran outside and tried to put the fires out with water, but emergency units arrived and moved the family to a safer location — just in time, Ramos added.
“The car blew up,” he said.
Ramos said fire officials told him that it appears someone sprayed gasoline on the two vehicles parked closest to the road, his Jaguar and the Corola. He lives in the home with his mother, his father, Juan Ramos, and a roommate.
Ramos added that his family believes they know the person responsible.
They believe the man also keyed Ramos’ Jaguar a few weeks ago after a dispute over payment for a job performed.
“We paid him for whatever work he did, and he didn’t like it,” he said.
Asked if anyone else could be held responsible, Ramos replied no.
“I’m 100 percent sure he did this, or he paid someone to do this,” he said.
Ramos and his family will press charges if someone is found responsible.
“I want to see this guy behind bars. He could have killed somebody,” he said.
Ramos estimated that the Jaguar had been worth about $19,000. He placed an estimated worth of about $2,000 on each of the other vehicles involved.
Officials reported that the total damage estimate is about $9,000 for the three heavily damaged vehicles. No figure was reported for the second van.