Nationwide Manhunt For Suspected Arsonist

Wednesday 25th, August 2010 / 09:21 Published by

A nationwide manhunt has been launched for a suspected arsonist who escaped from a police station on Harbour Island.

Cuban Avelino Avila Tomas was taken into custody at Spanish Wells, on Eleuthera, after a barge owned by his former employer was torched, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Later, officers found Avila’s cell on Harbour Island empty and the suspect nowhere in sight.

Senior assistant commissioner in charge of the Family Island, Willard Cunningham, confirmed that police officers have been searching for Avila since Saturday evening’s escape.

On Saturday afternoon, four police officers had visited the Avila’s Spanish Wells home, where he lived with his wife, Melisa Avila (nee Pinder), to question him about an explosion and fire that took place on the barge shortly after 3:00am that morning.  Avila was taken to Harbour Island for further questioning.

The barge, which was docked in the nearby harbour at the time, was chartered by the Island Block and Concrete company to transport equipment to a work site in Exuma this week.

Residents were rudely awakened by a loud explosion on board the vessel.  It is understood that between $200,000 and $300,000 worth of damage was done to the equipment alone by the fires, with damage to the barge yet to be assessed.

An Ingersoll Rand compressor, a $150,000 concrete volumetric truck and a ten-yard dump truck were among the items destroyed; along with 17 cement pallets.

It appears that equipment on board the boat had been doused with diesel from a tank of fuel which had been loaded onboard for the journey it was about to make.

No police report of the barge explosion, or of Avila’s escape from custody was brought to the attention of the media prior to inquiries were made by a local newspaper.

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