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String of apartment fires scares Callahan neighbors

10:29 PM, Sep 19, 2012   |    comments
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CALLAHAN, Fla. -- Neighbors in a Callahan apartment complex are afraid to go to sleep, after a string of fires.

"We're scared, we're just on edge all the time," said Lottie Wright, who lives in Pine Terrace apartments.

"You wonder. Every little thing wakes you up," said Bernice Gee, Wright's friend.

Her old apartment was destroyed by a fire in July.

"Burned up things I've had memories of for years and years and years," Gee said. "It's gone."

According to police reports, the fire was ruled an arson, along with a string of others, including a minor fire inside Wright's front door in August.

"Why would anybody want to set a fire to an older person's house that hasn't done nothing to them?" Gee asked.

First Coast News spoke with Pine Terrace office manager Barbara Hunt, asking if she is concerned about the fires.

"I am, my organization is [concerned] and we have absolutely been told to not discuss it too much because it is under investigation," Hunt said.

Hunt believes there have been more than 15 fires since April, and said more than the three we spoke of have been ruled arson.

"It's definitely all about arson, to my knowledge," Hunt said. "Now, I'm not the detective."

Hunt said there are 102 units at Pine Terrace, which is government subsidized housing.

31 of the residents are elderly.

Wright said they are all scared, and some feel not enough is being done to catch the arsonist.

"There's just nothing you can do," Wright said. "It's like fighting city hall."

Hunt said the apartment is looking into installing security cameras, but could not give a date of when that will happen.

Leaving residents with few options, while they live in fear night after night.

First Coast News tried for two days to reach Nassau County Sheriff Tommy Seagraves to find out if they have any suspects, but he has not returned our calls.

First Coast News

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