One Arrested for Arson Following Two Panama City Fires - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

One Arrested for Arson Following Two Panama City Fires

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Fires like the one off West 22nd Court in Panama City make up a larger number of calls than Fire Chief Wayne Watts would like to see.

"Generally you are probably looking at anywhere from 16 to maybe 20%," said Watts.

That is the percentage of fires that result from arsonists like the one Monday night.

"Fire was definitely in the attic and under the house when we arrived," said Battalion Chief Gary Swearingen. "It was fully involved when we arrived."

Firefighters started to grow suspicious of the blaze because just fifteen minutes earlier they were blocks away putting out a small porch fire.

"We were able to knock it down pretty quickly and contain the damage to the front porch," said Chief Watts.  

According to arrest reports 43-year-old Everett Anthony Tate of Panama City was arrested for setting the two fires. For firefighters, repeat arsonists like Tate add a new level of danger to an already risky situation.

"The reason that arson is more dangerous than a standard house fire is, depending upon the motive for the arson, some arsonists actually make holes in the floors so that firefighters then come into the building and fall through them and get injured."

And depending on the arsonists tactics their handy work can be detected immediately. An arson is something first responders are trained to see.

"There are certain types of burn patterns," said Watts. "There are certain flame and smoke colors and different things like that."

Thankfully no firefighters were injured in this particular incident. The fire is still under investigation by the State Fire Marshals Office.

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