A Punta Gorda house that went up in flames on Wednesday has been declared arson by authorities.
The fire occurred at around 2:30 a.m. in the 12000 block of Green Gulf Boulevard.
A call was made to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office to report that the back of the home was on fire.
The occupants of the home escaped unharmed.
The home has a history of illegal burning.
“In our computer, we got an alert that once we responded to this address, we needed to have the sheriff’s office call them because they had numerous times, we’ve been here for illegal backyard burns,” said Todd Dunn, public information officer with Charlotte County fire and EMS.
The fire department said the house is a total loss.
The RV, boats, cars and other items on the property made it harder to get the fire under control.
“That was part of the thing that it caught on fire so we were not only trying to put out the house that was burning but also some of the additional equipment in the yard,” Dunn said.
Numerous code enforcement complaints have been filed against the home since 2016.
The property owners owes Charlotte County about $16,000 in liens and fines. Site inspectors have been to the home about 30 times since 2017. In that same time, fire and EMS crews have been called out 24 times.
The State Fire Marshal said the fire that destroyed the home was not an accident.
“We don’t get involved until the fire marshal rules it an arson because arson is a crime,” said Claudette Bennett, public information officer with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
The Red Cross is helping the five people who live inside the home. They need to search for a new place to live.
“We do our best to prevent fires,” Dunn said. “Sometimes, unfortunately, like you see behind me, the fire gets the best of the home.”
The Charlotte County Criminal Investigations Unit is now seeking information from the public. Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-8477 to leave an anonymous tip. Tips may also be made at the Crime Stoppers website or by submitting a tip on the free P3Tips mobile app. A tip will make you eligible for a cash reward of up to $3,000.