Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Destroys Woman's Farmhouse; County Fire Officials Say Someone Started the 3- to 5-Acre Blaze

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Destroys Woman's Farmhouse; County Fire Officials Say Someone Started the 3- to 5-Acre Blaze

Article excerpt

Byline: mark pettus

Barbara Boyer, a St. Johns County landowner involved in a dispute over the use of a privately owned road to access her family farm, returned to the farm on Monday and found her house had burned.

On Saturday afternoon, Boyer's vacant house was destroyed by a fire that St. Johns County Fire Chief Bobby Hall said started under suspicious circumstances.

Following a 911 call, St. Johns County Fire Rescue and the Florida Division of Forestry responded to what they thought was a brush fire in the Watson Road area. Fire Rescue spokesman Jeremy Robshaw said a news photographer taking aerial photographs from a helicopter then called and reported a structure was involved.

The fire had done such severe damage to the structure by the time firefighters arrived that they were unsure what had burned. Robshaw's initial news release described it only as something man-made.

"We don't know what it is at this time," Robshaw told the St. Augustine Record, "It could have been anything."

The fire also scorched up to five acres of surrounding brush and grass. The initial report came into County Fire Rescue at 2 p.m. and the fire was contained by 3:30.

Boyer says she saw the brush fire report on the Record's Web site last weekend, but was surprised to discover a fireline that began at her property line and extended to nearby pile of smoldering rubble -- her former home -- when she arrived at the farm on Monday.

"Someone burned down my house," she said in an emotional phone interview minutes later.

Wednesday Robshaw said Fire Rescue investigators working in conjunction with the Division of Forestry had determined the fire was intentionally set, and had started at the structure. He added that their investigation was ongoing. Earlier, Robshaw had said there was no obvious reason for the fire to have begun on the Boyer property, noting there was no electricity at the site and no other apparent source of combustion. …

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