WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Investigators are figuring out who started more than a dozen fires in the Eloise Area of Winter Haven.
Since July, 14 homes have been set on fire on purpose, according to the State Fire Marshal’s office.
“This is heartbreaking,” David Cooper, who manages property in the area, said. “This is really depressing when you get down to it.”
One of the mobile homes Cooper rented out caught fire right after he started renovating it.
“Obviously, I can't afford to fix people's houses. I don't even know how we're going to afford to fix this one,” he said.
All of the homes are within blocks of each other, between US-17 and 9th Street, according to Crime Stoppers.
They’ve all vacant, but nearby residents fear the next one might not be.
“I can’t sleep at night,” Lazaro Guzman said.
His son had just bought a house across the street from his when it burned down.
Cooper, a pastor who grew up in the area, said the neighborhood is one of the few places in town where low-income families can afford the rent.
“Every time we lose a structure, we lose the potential for a family to have a home that they can afford,” he explained.
Investigators believe they're looking for more than one suspect. Four of those fourteen fires have been set in the last month or so. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest.
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