Broward County

Man, 75, Arrested After Police Say Hollywood Apartment Fire Was Arson

Jackie Wayne Pearce, 75, is accused of setting fire to his bed after his spouse left him

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Loud arguments and a marital split are the apparent motives behind an apartment fire in Hollywood and the arrest of a 75-year-old man for arson, police said.

Jackie Wayne Pearce was found sitting in a chair across the street from his burning unit at 2:17 a.m. on May 5, cursing at responding police and firefighters, according to an arrest report.

“I started the fire,” he shouted before being taken to Memorial Regional Hospital for a mental health evaluation. While in the hospital, he continued to shout that he started the fire, the report stated.

Jackie Pearce
Broward Sheriff's Office
Jackie Pearce

A neighbor heard the fire alarm and went outside to find smoke billowing from the apartment in the 1800 block of Scott Street.

He saw Pearce screaming, “Help me. Help me. I’ll burn the [expletive] down. Get me to the [Veterans Administration].” 

The neighbor started banging on other apartment doors to evacuate residents and tried to fight the fire with a portable extinguisher and garden hose, police said.

During questioning, detectives said the neighbor told them Pearce had been screaming and rambling to himself since Pearce’s common law wife had left him three days earlier and the neighbor was concerned that Pearce might harm himself.

“I was waiting to hear a gunshot,” said the neighbor, whose name was redacted from the arrest report.

Investigators determined the fire started on a bed, but no accelerant was used.

Pearce was released from the Broward County Jail Wednesday on $15,000 bond and was court ordered not to return to his apartment, records show.

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