Tampa fire investigates house fire as arson

From the outside of the home, it doesn't look so bad. The only evidence that something terrible happened at a Tampa home overnight is the soot around the door frame.

Tampa Fire Rescue responded to call after 4:00 a.m. of a reported fire on the 6200 block of South Church Avenue. Luckily, an elderly woman inside, was able to get out safely. 

"It took them about half an hour to make sure the fire was completely out," said Jason Penny, spokesperson for Tampa Fire Rescue. "Subsequent to that, we had our investigators from the Fire Marshal's office come out, and what they found was, what they believe is evidence of an arson." 

Because the fire is still under investigation, Tampa Fire cannot say exactly how the fire started, only that investigators call it "suspicious." Authorities say damage to the home is estimated at $100,000. 

"The priority is to make sure that anybody on the inside was able to safely escape, and that's the case here," said Penny. "Now, our priority is finding out who committed this crime and bringing them to justice."

The woman is now staying with friends. Investigators say there is no threat to the public. 

"As far as any repeated activity, there's no indication that that would happen," said Penny. "But, arson is a very dangerous crime." 

Tampa police say days earlier, they were also at the residence to investigate a report of a theft. At this time, it's not clear if the two incidents are connected.

If you have any tips regarding this case, you can call 911, or leave any anonymous tip with the Fire Marshal's Office at (813) 274-7000. Rewards of up to $2,500 or more are available for information leading to the identification or persons involved in arson fires.