PALMETTO -- Investigators currently believe the cause of the fire that destroyed a home in Palmetto early Friday is suspicious.
At about 2 a.m. Friday, neighbors said they awakened to screams and the sounds of mini explosions as an inferno turned the triplex on the northeast corner of Fourth Street West and Seventh Avenue West into a ball of fire.
Fire crews from the North River Fire District responded and took about an 90 minutes to extinguish the blaze.
Initially, fire crews did not believe there was anything suspicious, but a joint investigation by the North River fire marshall and the state fire marshall has revealed otherwise.
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"They have pretty much ruled out that it was an accident," Battalion Chief Donnie Bathje said. The investigation is continuing.
Crimestoppers of Manatee County is offering to a $1,000 reward to anyone who comes forward with any information that lead to an arrest. Signs announcing the reward were placed in front of the home.
Anyone with information should call the North River Fire District or, to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000, call Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 (TIPS) or send an anonymous tip online to manateecrimestoppers.com.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitternote>