SANFORD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
It has been a stressful couple of weeks for residents living in the quaint historic neighborhoods in the shadows of Downtown Sanford.
State investigators said fires at two homes along Palmetto Avenue, just hours apart late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, were intentionally set. That brings the total of possible arson fires in that same area up to a total of eight since the end of May.
"When this first started, I talked to my hubby and thought this one has been sitting there, I wonder if anyone is going to keep an eye on it," said Rachel Hallet Njugna.
She lives in the home diagonally across the street from one of those homes. She says early Sunday morning, someone was banging on her door.
"He said he was coming back and saw the fire, and he didn't' have a cellphone on him so we called 911," said Hallet Njugna.
When she looked over the stranger's shoulder, she couldn't believe the flames.
"They were a good 30 to 40 feet. We were nervous about the embers coming up and getting our trees," she said.
She says she and her husband have been keeping their windows open when they're home listening for anything strange going on outside. Her neighbor Scott Gordon says he's been doing the same. Gordon said it became a concern, "When the two houses on 9th Street burned down."
Both he and Hallet Njugna say that although the house across the street has already been set ablaze, there's still enough of it left standing and they're hoping the fire starter doesn't come back.
"That worries me because if the person really wants it down, they'll re-ignite it," said Hallet Njugna.
The Orlando Fire Department confirmed to FOX 35 that the State Fire Marshal's Office had been in touch with them inquiring about three vacant house fires set the same night last month between the Mills 50 District and Thornton Park neighborhoods. A deputy fire chief with OFD tells FOX 35 that it's too early to say if those are connected to the Sanford cases.
Monday afternoon, Sanford Police announced they will be holding a forum along with the Sanford Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals Office in Sanford City Commission Chambers to discuss the recent string of intentionally set fires in abandoned homes.