Panama City Beach Fires

By: Kristina Hamilton Email
By: Kristina Hamilton Email

Two separate fire's broke out this morning in Panama City Beach on the same block within hours of each other.

They're being added to the State Fire Marshall’s growing list of suspicious fires in that area. The neighbors are scared and ready for the arsonist to be caught.

This Panama City Beach home was believed to be vacant when it went billowing up into flames early Thursday morning. The blaze is being called suspicious.

Mercedes Whidden, a neighbor, says, “I thought I was about to lose my house."

Mercedes Whidden's RV is parked directly behind the home and she says flames were pouring over the fence. She says if it wasn't for the retired fire fighter next door thinking on his feet and grabbing this hose she wouldn't have a home today.

Retired firefighter John Wawrzynik says, "Then I saw how bad the fire was getting and nobody was responding yet and I we got a hose and started hosing down the trailers.

Whidden says,“If it wasn't for him we would have lost our home and animals and everything."

This Clarence Street fire is one of two fires firefighters responded to Thursday morning, but the only one that caused significant damage.

Witnesses tell officials they spotted several kids running from the scene.

Lt. Les Neslson of the State Fire Marshall's office says, "We've had four fires in a five block area over the past month that we're investigating that are either suspicious that are all suspicious and my be all set fires."

The first of these suspicious fires happened on Kilgore Road about three weeks ago.

Then just two weeks later this vacant home, also located behind Domino's Pizza caught on fire.

The State Fire Marshall’s office is working with the Bay County Sheriff's office to find the arsonist.

"I want to know who did it and know why because that puts so many people at risk and so many things at risk and it's just stupid,” says Whidden.

In two of these four fires witnesses say transients were spotted, and in last night's, young children may have been seen fleeing.

The State Fire Marshall's office is offering a $2,500 reward to any one with information leading to an arrest.

If you have information contact them at 747-5890.


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