By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Authorities are offering up to a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for a fire that occurred late last month in Port Isabel.
The fire, which started inside a storage shed behind a residence on Monroe Avenue, eventually spread to the home, as well as a neighboring house — that of Port Isabel Mayor Joe E. Vega.
“The fire originated in the shed and it caught my fence on fire, and it caught my house on fire,” Vega said. Both he and his neighbors were alerted to the blaze by two Port Isabel police officers who were passing through the neighborhood on a routine patrol at approximately 3 a.m. on July 23.
“We’re blessed that we’re still alive,” Vega said.
Later that day, Port Isabel Fire Marshal Rodrigo Garcia inspected the scene with the aid of the State Fire Marshal’s office. “The cause is still under investigation,” Garcia said, adding that the blaze appears to have been intentionally set. “There was no electricity to the actual shed, nor anything that would start a fire,” he said, though a motorcycle and lawn care equipment were stored within it, he said.
Garcia said when firefighters arrived, “The front door of the actual storage shed was wide open.”
“When I heard that it was an intentional fire … that brings fear,” Vega said.
Though both homes were damaged, the mayor’s house fared the worst of the two. “It damaged the side of the house, the whole eave and it went into the roof,” Vega said. “We’ve been displaced for a month,” he said.
Vega urged anyone with information to contact authorities. “I’m asking the citizens of this community if they know, or if they have any leads to the person who caused this fire to please report it right away,” he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-877-434-7345. Calls can remain confidential.
“I just want to thank the two officers (Justin Garcia and Ben Gomez),” Vega said, adding that had they arrived 10 minutes later, the outcome could have been different. “We’re just blessed that nobody got injured,” he said.
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