SOUTH FORT MYERS, Fla.- Iona McGregor Fire District's responded to more than a dozen fires, deemed either suspicious or arson over the past year. A fire at a vacant home on Kapok Court is the latest reminder of a dangerous trend, putting an entire neighborhood on edge.
The wooden, foreclosed home went up in flames just after 2:30 Tuesday morning.
"It is really scary. Very scary. I don't know how long anyone's going to want to live in this neighborhood now after that," said Robert Dhondt, who has friends that live in the neighborhood.
The State Fire Marshal was on scene Tuesday afternoon as firefighters sorted through the rubble to try and determine whether the fire can be ruled arson.
"You have all kinds of conditions that could create a fire. To try and find that exact ignition point that would actually prove where the fire started, when you have something as destroyed as this, it's very difficult," Lauri McMahon of the Iona McGregor Fire District said.
Firefighters have responded to five structure fires within a 2 mile radius over the past year, all stemming from Thorton Road. They won't confirm if a serial arsonist is to blame.
"What we're trying to do is we need the eyes and ears of the community to help us crime watch. If you see anybody down the street at 2 o'clock in the morning, call the Sheriff's Office, and say there's somebody walking down my road," Chief Phillip Brown of Iona McGregor Fire District said Tuesday.
In the meantime, residents say they want answers.
"I cannot stand the idea that my neighborhood is going up in flames. First of all, it's an annoyance. Second of all, it's dangerous. Third, it's scary. You don't know when you come home whether your home is going to be burned down or not," a Iona McGregor resident said, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Iona McGregor Fire District is now teaming with the State Fire Marshal and Lee County Sheriff's Office to try and get answers behind the rash of suspicious fires.
If you have any information, call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.