Payne City House Fires Point to Arson

7:04 PM, May 14, 2012   |    comments
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A morning blaze swept through Gardner Street in Payne City consuming one home and spreading to two others.

"We received a call of structure fire this morning a littler after 7 a.m," says Assistant Fire Chief Cliff Rushin.

"911, I said, the house next door is on fire, can you help? And she said yes. By the time I hung up the phone, my house caught on fire," says Tammy Kemp, a neighboring homeowner.

By the time firefighters arrived, the house caved in. The fire started at a vacant house under renovation. It had no electricity, gas, or other utilities. Investigators believe the fire was set.

"I'm just a little upset to think that somebody would start a fire, you know. Because it's a very close community. Everybody look out for each other so to start a fire," says Kemp as she shakes her head.

Kemp has lived in the house next door for almost 11 years. "My house is destroyed. Everything in my house is destroyed."

Her daughter, Qutanglus Emory, snatched up some belongings before they turned to ash.

"I'm holding $1,000 we stashed away. We thought we lost in the fire, but luckily we got it back. It's all burnt," she says, waving the stack of dollars.

For Emory, a student at DeVry University, her book bag was a grand save. "I didn't want to lose my calculator and my math book which is both $100 for both of them."

The fire department is asking anyone with information on the case to call the Georgia Arson Hotline. Their number is 1-800-282-5804.

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