EUSTIS, Fla. (FOX 35 Orlando) - Looking at a burned-out truck, sitting less than 15 feet away from his bedroom window, Alfred Simmons is still shaking.
“He could have killed us all. I got lucky,” said Simmons.
His two dogs woke him up early Saturday morning.
“He went to howling and singing and I knew something was up.”
Suddenly Simmons noticed bright light coming from outside.
“The flames were so bright, it lit the whole house up,” said Simmons.
He ran outside, using his phone to spray down his house to keep it from going ablaze while his girlfriend called 911.
“It’s very alarming. Very alarming,” said Simmons.
Lake County Fire Chief Jim Dickerson says this is just one of 5 fires intentionally set in a five-square-mile area of Umatilla in less than 48 hours.
“We’re hoping its coincidental but with them all being intentionally set, it doesn’t seem like it’s even possible for it to be coincidental,” Chief Dickerson told The News Station.
He says the first arson fire was reported at Simmons home Saturday morning. That afternoon he says a man was caught on surveillance trying to start a fire at Old Crow BBQ.
Early Sunday morning, the chief says some threw accelerant on the front of the Sunoco Station in downtown Eustis. On Monday morning, at 5:11 a.m., an SUV was torched inside of a garage. In that same home, Chief Simmons says someone went inside and lit a laundry hamper on fire while a 15-year-old boy slept inside.
Just 30 minutes later, a man called 911 to report his car alarm going on and his truck on fire, inside pole barn. It sits on the back of his property, less than a hundred yards where he, his wife and two small children sleeping.
Lake County Fire Department, their arson investigators, Lake County Sheriff's Office, Eustice Police and the State Fire Marshalls Office are forming a task force to investigate. Samples of accelerants taken from some of the crime scenes are now being evaluated at a lab. Investigators are hoping to come up with a profile for the person or persons setting the fires.
Chief Dickerson is asking that everyone in Lake County be aware of any suspicious activity or any talk of these arson fires.
“I want the people to be resilient and be on alert,” said Chief Dickerson.
Anyone with information is asked to call the arson hotline at 877- NO-ARSON.