Florida Arson Officials: Polk County Fire Caused $22M in Damages

March 18, 2008

Florida officials arrested a Polk County man who allegedly set fire to a manufacturing plant, destroying the building and causing more than $22 million in damages, according to Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Damages caused by the fire left 309 employees out of work for approximately three months.

Efrain “Frankie” Castro, 23, was arrested on March 13 in Lakes Wales on charges of first degree arson, Sink said. Castro could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Last week’s arrest follows a seven-month investigation by the State Fire Marshal Bureau of Fire and Arson into allegations Castro set fire to Flanders PrecisionAire Factory in Bartow. Set July 10, 2007, it took local firefighters four days to fully extinguish the fire and is believed to have originated from the ignition of stock boxes located on the side of the building. At the time of the fire, 153 employees were working.

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services

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