Arson suspected in Pasco County wildfires

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Pasco authorities now say a series of fires in the Seven Springs area were deliberately set on Tuesday.

The fires happened of State Road 54, between Old County 54 and Mitchell Ranch Road.

Arson investigators found five points of ignition for the fires and said they were set within eight minutes of each other.

“So, it is our belief they are arson fires, the one in Seven Springs and the Car Wash fire,” said Pasco Fire Rescue Division Chief Shawn Whitehead.

A Florida Forest Service aircraft flying above the fires spotted three teens in the area, who were then detained by crews on the ground.

Whitehead said the fires were not caused by any natural set of circumstances.

“There was no lightning yesterday, there was no infrastructure failure, meaning no power lines came down, so those were caused by human hands. We don’t have that many fires that close together,” said Whitehead.

The teens that were found in the area were questioned and then released to their parents. No charges have been filed, but arson investigators are still working on the case.

People who live in the area are not surprised firefighters found teens in the area where the fires burned.

“The kids are always back there,” said Nona Meehan, who lives close to the burned areas.

She had picked up her grandson at school, after the school was evacuated because of the fires.

“We come home and there is flames. The fence right there, the back one, the flames were up in the trees,” said Meehan as she pointed across the street.

Janet Harper picked up a garden hose when flames from the fire were coming near her back yard.

“So, I basically ended up putting out the fires that was already over the creek and getting ready to come up the side,” said Harper.

Harper said she also saw teens in the area at the time and believes they were acting suspiciously.

“Even I kind of thought maybe they are the ones that started it,” said Harper.

She believe anyone who purposefully set the fires should be punished.

“I think they’re crazy. I don’t think they need to be stopped and punished in one way or the other, because anybody that makes a fire like that is sick,” said Harper.

Pasco Fire Rescue said if someone is convicted of setting the fires, they may be held financially responsible for the cost of putting the fires out and for any damage caused by the fires.

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