The Bizarre World of Florida

Confused man sets himself on fire attempting to burn down an occupied home July 28, 2014

A group of South Daytona residents are lucky to be alive after an arsonist lit part of their apartment complex on fire, while residents were home.

News 13 spoke with the woman the arsonist was talking to as he was dousing the complex with gasoline.

Kathy Bailey’s charred front door is being replaced after it was set on fire Saturday morning at the Spanish Villa apartment complex in South Daytona.

downloadBut she and her granddaughter are lucky to be alive after police say Arthur Avery did not find who he was looking for, a man by the name of Ted; a man Bailey says she’s never heard of, which was a response Avery did not like.

“And he just started splashing the gasoline on it. And I said my granddaughter’s in there. And he said you better get her. So I ran in and my other girlfriend who came in from out of town said there’s a child in there. He said I don’t give a damn,” said Bailey.

A grandmother’s instinct kicked in and she ran inside for her granddaughter.

“Grabbed her and went out the back door. Did you get any gasoline on you? Yeah, I did, I was just praying he didn’t light that fire before I could get out of there,” added Kathy Bailey.

The fire burned two front doors, and a mattress, before working its way up higher.

Residents in this apartment complex tell me the flames came all the way to the second floor. One homeowner even saw those flames through the peep hole right here on the second floor.

“It looked like hell just exploded,” said resident Lonna Sampson.

Lonna Sampson is thankful South Daytona firefighters arrived so quickly to put the fire out because her son had no way out the back door of the second story apartment.

“Someone could have burned us all, all of us to death,” added Sampson.

Avery himself is being treated for burns. Witnesses told police then when Avery knelt down to light the fire, he caught fire himself.

Police say Avery rolled on the ground, an act which may have put that fire out, but led to his arrest because he dropped a set of keys and his wallet.

Detectives say Avery was driven by friends to a hospital in St, John’s county but was transferred to Shand’s hospital where he is being treated for his burns.

Meanwhile, Bailey is glad Avery was arrested, but too nervous to return to her apartment.

“I was Petrified. [Probably] the worst thing could ever happen to me cause I’m afraid of fire,” said Bailey.


If you get all fired up …. why not just set someone on fire … July 7, 2014

vincent-mooreOrange County deputies arrested a man they said tried to set another man on fire early Sunday morning.

Deputies said they were called to a home in the 7600 block of Clarcona Ocoee road around 2:16 a.m. after an attack.

Deputies said when they got to the home, the discovered 47-year-old Vincent Moore had poured gasoline on another man, then lit him on fire.

Deputies said the victim was taken to Orlando Health and treated for his burns.

Deputies said the victim is expected to recover and Moore was arrested at the scene.

Moore was taken to the Orange County Jail and charged with attempted murder.


Some folks light candles on their birthday; others apparently light up their boss’ home June 21, 2014

 It was Damion Haywood’s 40th birthday and he had just been fired.

So, incensed, police say he set his 79-year-old boss’ truck and house on fire.

Now Haywood sits in the county jail charged with first-degree arson, dwelling/people present, and second-degree arson.

sfl-flduh-man-gets-fired-20140619-001Willie Irven, the boss, told police he fired Haywood at 11 a.m. Tuesday because the suspect always shows up to work “high,” an arrest report states. Irven said that Haywood — who turned 40 that day — mumbled something and walked off, the report shows. After getting the pink slip from Irven, Haywood telephoned his nephew and asked the younger man to pick him up, the report shows. The nephew told investigators that Haywood climbed into his car toting a lunch box and a metal gas can, the report states.

Haywood of Daytona Beach asked his nephew to take him to a gas station where he filled up the metal can, the nephew told police. Then he asked his nephew to drive him to Winchester Street where the suspect’s mother lives. According to police, Irven lives close to Haywood’s mother.

About noon, a neighbor of Irven’s spotted a man beating a 2007 Dodge truck with a metal gasoline can, the arrest report shows. The witness told police that he watched as the man also flattened one of the tires on the pickup and then poured gasoline into the truck, lighting it on fire, the report states.

The witness then asked the man why he had done that and the suspect answered, “Because I can. And I will light your house on fire too,” the report states.

When investigators contacted Irven, he told them that Haywood knows where he lives because it’s close to Haywood’s mother’s house, the report states. It’s not clear what kind of business Irven owns or what kind of work Haywood did there. Irven could not be reached Thursday.

When police and an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office arrived at Irven’s house on Kingston Street, they found the Dodge with three punctured tires. The vehicle’s front window had been shattered on the passenger’s side and gasoline had been poured into the truck and set ablaze, the report shows.

Irven’s house meanwhile — built in 1946 — had sustained some damage as well, the report states. Fire marshal investigator Murray McDonald discovered that gasoline had been splashed onto the south and southeast exterior walls of the residence and then set on fire. The fire did not spread because the house has asbestos siding, police said.

While investigators examined Irven’s property, patrol officers spoke to Haywood’s nephew and the witness who had seen a man dousing Irven’s truck with gasoline, the report shows.

Haywood has been arrested 23 times since 1998 and has a handful of convictions — including one for stalking. He served prison time in the 1990s for robbery and again in the early 200s for cocaine dealing. He was interviewed on Wednesday and police said he confessed to setting both the truck and house on fire. He was being held Thursday at the Branch Jail on $25,000 bail.


Man set neighbor’s shutters on fire with cigarette June 16, 2014

Filed under: Abuse,Bizzarre,Controversy,Dangerous Nut,Dumb,Fire,Scary,Stupid,WTF? — floridaduh @ 11:14 pm

A Gainesville man was arrested Thursday night after police say he set a neighbor’s window shutters on fire with a cigarette.

sfl-flduh-neighbors-shutters-fire-20140613-001Duvale Mitchell, 31, of 2526 NW 62nd Place, was charged with a felony count of arson, a Gainesville Police Department report said.

The owner of the home told police that when she arrived home from work at 6 p.m. she noticed that her window shutters were burnt. A witness told police he was outside when he saw Mitchell standing in front of the woman’s apartment around 3 p.m., the report said.

Mitchell lit a cigarette with a lighter but did not smoke it. The witness said he saw Mitchell place the cigarette in between the slats of the wooden shutters and go back into his apartment, the report said.

Police said the shutters caught on fire, burning about half of them before the fire extinguished itself.

When officials found Mitchell, he told them neighbors kept harassing him and breaking stuff at his house, the report said.

Mitchell was booked into the Alachua County jail at 7:26 p.m. and remained at the jail Friday in lieu of $45,000 bond.


You know you’re getting old when all the candles on your birthday cake set off the sprinkler system in your home April 29, 2014

birthday cakeIt’s a surprise birthday party that a 20-year-old Deerfield Beach man will never forget.

His family hid his cake on a washing machine in the closet of apartment 206, in the Waterways complex at 4365 SW 10th Pl. around 9 p.m. Monday, according to Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles.

“They closed the closet with the candles lit to surprise him,” Jachles said. “But, they were surprised when they opened the closet door to get the cake and were met with a barrage of water from the sprinkler that had gone off.”

Firefighters responded to the alarm but found no flames. Apartments 206 and 106 below were flooded, displacing both families, he said.




Firefighters responded to the alarm but found no flames. Apartments 206 and 106 below were flooded, displacing both families, he said.

There were no injuries reported.


Report: Man started fire in apartment to “burn bugs” April 8, 2014

A man pulled from a fire on Sunday night told authorities that he started the blaze accidentally — while trying to burn the bugs in his apartment, the Orlando Police Department said.

Orlando police and fire crews were called to the fire at an apartment building on Lakeview Street, near Lake Concord just north of downtown Orlando, about 11:30 p.m.

The man was rescued from his burning apartment and taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center to be treated for smoke inhalation, according to Orlando police.

An officer who checked the apartment afterward described its “deplorable” living conditions in his report:

“There was trash and empty beer cans covering the majority of the floor in the living area and the kitchen,” the officer wrote in his report. “The bedroom where most of the fire damage occurred was also filled with trash and cans.”

The man, whose name has not been released, told authorities he started the fire “to burn the bugs in his home and computer,” according to the police report released Monday.

The officer filled out paperwork for the man to be hospitalized under the state’s Baker Act, according to the report, describing him as “a danger to himself and others.”

The case was turned over to an arson investigator but police said no criminal charges are expected. No other apartments in the building appeared damaged, according to police.


Vampires, nudists, snakes: Nobody does wacky like Florida April 7, 2014


By: Scott Maxwell

Last week, news broke that a congressional candidate in Gainesville had a secret pastime: impersonating vampires. And superheroes.

Some people would call this nutty.

In Florida, we just call it Tuesday.

Seriously, that’s not even our highest-profile vampire story. Remember the “vampire killings” from Lake County?

Some of our stories are heartbreakingly tragic. But so many are also mind-numbingly strange.

In Florida, we do weird the way Kansas does wheat.

Here, giant pet snakes escape. And breed. And then invade our national parks.

We have fish that eat people, alligators that eat people and people who eat people.

Two years ago, when news of the “cannibal attack” broke, the nation let out a collective gasp … until learning it was Miami. Then it all made sense.

We have killer amoebas, hanging chads and diaper-wearing astronauts. (All of which would make awesome rock-band names, by the way.)

We have a town named Christmas … where it never snows. We have the world’s smallest post office and a couple trying to build America’s largest house.

I used to think Florida attracted wacky people. Now I think it creates them.

Take my grandfather, for example.

Early in his life, he was a NASA engineer in Virginia — and as strait-laced and buttoned-down as they came. His passions were photography and crossword puzzles.

Then he moved to Florida. After Grandma died, we worried that our sober and contemplative grandfather would become listless and uninspired.

He became neither of those things. Instead, he became a nudist. (Lending more credence to the notion that it’s never the people you want to see naked at a nudist resort.)

At first, we were all: What the heck, Granddad?

But you know what? He found new life and inspiration. He’d travel down Interstate4 from Ormond Beach to Cypress Cove, where he’d pay strict adherence to the two main rules: Never take pictures, and always place a towel on the bar stool before you sit down.

Florida liberated him. And he spent the remaining, widowed years of his life happy. So you go, Granddad.

By the way, nudity is another one of our weird themes.

•”Nude man found dead on killer whale’s back”

•”Florida Lotto winner seeks to open a nude dude ranch”

•”Blind woman sues nudist colony over heavy dog”

Florida newspapers carry such headlines the way other papers carry horoscopes.

Some of that is understandable. It’s hot down here.

And I don’t mean happy, sand-at-your-toes, wind-in-your-hair hot. I mean sweaty-thighs-stuck-to-your-car-seats, armpit-stains-like-dinner-plates hot. It’s enough to make anyone nutty. And naked.

But it cuts both ways. When it’s hot, it makes us crazy. When it’s pleasant, we attract other states’ crazies. I mean, if it’s January and you’re already planning to run a scam, con or heist, would you rather do it in Buffalo or Boynton Beach?

This state is also lousy with newspapers and TV stations, meaning we have more ink-stained wretches and blow-dried broadcasters than your average state to tell all the weird stories.

Finally, there’s our melting-pot effect.

You simply can’t throw so many different cultures together and not expect some fireworks.

But you know what? That is also part of what makes this state so splendidly unique.

We have character and texture — a bouillabaisse of native and newcomer, sinner and saint, scholar and simpleton.

It’s a fusion that produces a weeklong bacchanalia in Key West and pioneering medical research at the Burnham Institute.

It’s the reason Orlando can turn out just as many people for a Veterans Day parade as it does for Come Out With Pride.

And it explains how a mild-mannered rocket engineer can feel inspired to start a new life by ditching his pocket protector — along with everything else he’s wearing.

And, yes, it’s also how we end up with some of the wackiest politicians in America — including a vampire-impersonating, superhero-mimicking, punk-rock lawyer running for Congress.

Just what we need … another lawyer in Congress.



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