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Man dies after Spearing Street house fire

Condemned house 09-09-13 (Lorena Inclan)
The city of Jacksonville condemned a home on the 1800 block of Spearing Street after police say it was destroyed by an arsonist. (Lorena Inclan)
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Updated: 9/09/2013 8:53 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News has learned the victim in the arson at a home on Spearing Street has died.

The house has been in Susie George's family for more than 50 years. She's now forced to tear it down or risk losing the property to the city.

"I'm trying to save what little bit of memories we have by keeping the property," said George.

City officials condemned the home on the 1800 block of Spearing Street after police said it was destroyed by an arsonist.

George's 62-year-old brother Cecil Hepler and two other men lived in the home. All three were inside the house when the fire broke out around 4 a.m. Sunday. Everyone made it out alive but Hepler later died at the hospital.

"He got as far as the refrigerator at the back of the house and then he collapsed. He went into seizures," said George.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, an arsonist targeted the home as well as two other areas nearby.

Carpets and tires were found burning on Carmen Street near Evergreen Avenue, and a palm tree was up in flames on East 8th Street near Spearing Street. Both locations are just steps from George's house.

George, who owns the property but lives next door, said she has cared for Hepler for the past 13 years after he had a stroke that left him disabled.

She demanded justice for her brother.

"I do hope that they do get punished for this because they deserve it. This ain't no fun and games, they took away people's lives, they took away people's dreams," said George.

George said she's trying to figure how she'll be able to demolish the house to avoid liens placed on the property.

If you have any information that could help police, you're asked to call Crimestoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
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