Arson at play in downtown fires

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

Arson is being blamed for a two-alarm fire in a downtown business early Saturday, leaving a city firefighter with minor injuries.

Firefighters were called to the out to Save-A-Buck, a used appliance and furniture store in the 200 block of East Washington Street, around 12:40 a.m.

after a city police officer spotted the blaze, said Capt. Jim T. Judkins, spokesman for the Suffolk Fire Department.

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Firefighters could see a red glow and heavy smoke over the downtown historical district as they pulled out of their stations, he said.

The first firefighters arriving on scene around 12:45 a.m. reported heavy fire at the rear of the building, with smoke filling the rest of the structure, Judkins said. Most of the blaze was contained to an attached garage used to store irreparable furniture and appliances.

The building, known to longtime Suffolk residents as the Suffolk Fruit and Produce, is owned by downtown businessman Don Carter. Lee Peet is owned by Save-A Buck.

The building received about $2,000 in damage, Judkins said.

Saturday’s fire is the third in a two-block area in recent months, Judkins said.

An apartment in the 100 block of Franklin Street caught on fire March 31. Then, on April 9, a blaze swept through a vacant house in the 100 block of Morgan Street.

Both are still under investigation, Judkins said.

Seven other suspicious fires have been reported in the downtown area in the past year: four in trash dumpsters, one pile of trash and another in the mulch around a building, Judkins said. Investigators have conducted several interviews in these cases.

None of that information resulted in an arrest, Judkins said.

Fire investigators are asking for help in locating the person or persons responsible for setting these fires.

Call the fire prevention bureau at 923-4785 or the Suffolk Crime Line at 1-800-LOCK-U-UP.

Callers providing information leading to an arrest may be

eligible for a cash award.