ELYRIA - Charles Everiss, 49, looked defeated Saturday as he wheeled a motorcycle away from the spot where his Ford Ranger was set on fire several hours earlier.
"The gas tank blew up and made a hell of an explosion," he said.
Firefighters rushed at 1:18 a.m. Saturday to Everiss` house on the Ninth Street alley, where flames from the truck spread to his garage.
A 1982 Honda Goldwing also was destroyed by the fire. There also were tools worth $1,000 in the bed of the truck, according to an Elyria police report.
Officials are investigating the fire as arson.
A neighbor told police he saw a dark sport utility vehicle drive down the alley with two men inside just before the fire started.
The neighbor also heard what sounded like a gunshot and breaking glass, the report said. A few minutes later, he could see the flames flickering over the roof of the garage.
Everiss said he was asleep and didn`t know there was trouble until firefighters arrived.
The men threw a cinder block through the truck window and poured gasoline inside, he said.
Everiss thinks it was an act of retaliation by former rental tenants who accused him of stealing a Kawasaki Ninja 250 that was left behind when they moved out, he said.
"I`m thinking about leaving the area, because if they come back tonight and burn me out, it`ll all be over," he said.
He`s also thinking about getting out of the rental game.
Everiss spent Friday repairing plumbing at properties on the west side of Cleveland, where vandals had removed copper piping.
"You try to invest in your community and make it a better place. This is what you get," he said.
Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.