Volume 2 Number 19
May 9, 2005










TEXT VERSION

 

STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE INVESTIGATION FINDS PRESENCE OF GASOLINE MAIN FACTOR IN MARGATE FIRE

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher today issued a report that gasoline played a major role in a fire that destroyed part of a Margate apartment complex in March.  The State Fire Marshal’s Office was called to investigate because a man died in the fire.  Dozens of residents also were left homeless. 

“Our role at the State Fire Marshal’s Office is to determine the cause of the fire, and particularly to determine if arson is at play,” Gallagher said.  “Despite numerous and extensive tests, we could not conclude the actual ignition source of the fire, but we did conclude it was incendiary.” 

On March 13, a resident of Cross Creek Apartments, at 240 SW 56 Ave., barricaded himself in his apartment after allegedly firing several gunshots into the apartment of his ex-girlfriend in the same complex.  The Margate Police Department responded and called the Broward County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team for assistance.  The SWAT team fired four rounds of Flite-Rite tear gas containers into the man’s apartment, three of which entered the residence.   

The resident, Dan Lee Magno, was found dead in his apartment of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  It was determined that he poured gasoline throughout the apartment, and gasoline was found on the couch and the clothes he was wearing. 

Investigators determined that gasoline was the main, if not the only, factor that caused the fire to ignite and burn so rapidly.  But, because of the extent of the damage, it could not be determined if the suspect set the fire prior to shooting himself. 

The investigation also looked at whether the Flite-Rite tear gas canisters could have sparked the fire.  According to the report, the objective of the battery of tests was “to determine if the Flite-Rite device could produce temperatures sufficient to either ignite or melt common combustible products normally found in a residence … to determine if the Flite-Rite device could act as an ignition source for gasoline vapors poured into a residence …to determine if the Flite-rite devices could produce chemical patterns consistent with those from gasoline.” 

The findings in the report state: “Observing each test and review of the data produced by these tests indicates that it is highly unlikely that a Flite-Rite projectile could cause an instantaneous fire in a room with a normal fuel load of common combustibles.  

The report on the tests of the Flite-Rite canisters is available at www.MyFloridaCFO.com/sfm

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin.  Anyone with information about this case or any incident of fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).  

Lake County, the 43rd county, was established  May 27, 1887, being taken from Orange and Sumter counties and named for the large number of lakes within its boundaries. The courthouse, above, was built in 1924.