Arsonist at large: Strand residents on edge

By Al Pefley-  bio | email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Authorities are trying to calm residents' fears at a downtown condo building that has been hit several times by an arsonist.

Four suspicious fires were set at The Strand, a high-rise condo building on Evernia Street in downtown West Palm Beach, Memorial Day weekend.

The property manager says the fires over Memorial Day weekend caused at least $20,000  damage. One of the fires involved a blaze that was started in the wheel well of a car in the parking garage.

Dozens of residents gathered for a meeting Thursday night to get an update from the fire chief and other authorities.

Some residents of the 15-story building are nervous, since the culprit has not been caught. "I think it's deplorable what has happened. But I think that they really have to monitor people coming in," said resident Betty Jones.

Dr. James Louwers, also a resident, said, "We're ten floors up. If there's a fire in that hallway, I want to be able to get out, especially with my wife."

Authorities won't say if they have any suspects or if they're close to making an arrest.

Residents of The Strand were advised at the meeting to know where the exits are, know the location of the fire extinguishers and how to use them, and never ride the elevator during a fire emergency.

The property manager says they're now adding 18 more security cameras to beef up security. The front door is kept locked at all times, raising the possibility the fires were started by a resident or someone who was let in.

The reward now stands at $2,000 and could be increased.

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