SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - ***UPDATE*** Savannah Fire states that an 11-year-old boy has been identified as the suspect setting a fire at a Southside Savannah dental office Saturday.
The case has been turned over to the juvenile court system.
Friday, Philip Friedman digging through burned pictures, diplomas, and memories at his 15-year-old practice that is now a 100 percent loss. Thankfully, the hard drive that held all surveillance video was saved during the fire.
Friedman says he’s sympathetic to the boy but completely devastated by this result.
“He’s affected me for the rest of my life and my career. I will lose patients over this. Most of them have said they’ll stay, but if I’m not up and running in time, it’s just reality we’re going to lose some people. My career will never be the same or what it was. I worked 25 years to build this, the long way the right way,” said Friedman.
It’s time for the dentist to rebuild, but he’s hesitant to do so in the same location unless the city of Savannah will do something about the abandoned property and crime in the area.
“What am I looking at? Where do I start? All of my life is there,” said Friedman.
“I am frustrated with it. I am resentful. I am angry. I know it didn’t have to happen. I hope everyone can move on with their lives,” he said.
Dr. Friedman says he’s been complaining to the city of Savannah and Savannah Police for years about the blighted property sitting right behind his office. The dentist wants to rebuild what he calls his second home on Forest Drive.
But if the city won’t condemn the property in what has become a safety concern, Dr. Friedman says they’ll look into other options.
He says losing his dental office feels like he lost his home and family in his patients and staff.
As he gets ready to start the rebuilding process, he’s also looking at a second location to start seeing his patients again.
Savannah Fire investigators are looking for a suspect wanted for setting fire to a Savannah dental office over the weekend.
On Saturday the Dental Office of Philip I. Friedman, on Forest Park Drive, caught fire. Surveillance video shows an individual wearing distinctive athletic gear. That person can be seen setting fire to the pine straw at the back of the dental office where the building’s gas meter is located, according to Savannah Fire.
Thirty minutes later Savannah Fire was dispatched and found the office fully engulfed. Firefighters discovered that the fire was being fueled by the gas line.
They blanketed the natural gas-fueled flames with water for more than four hours until gas company crews were able to locate and cap the underground gas line.
The dental office was closed at the time of the fire and no one was injured. The building sustained extensive damage.
The suspect appears to have a dark tan to medium brown complexion and slim build. There is a white rectangular graphic or pocket on the right front side of the suspect’s hooded sweatshirt. It is believed they are wearing dark basketball shorts, bright green leggings and basketball shoes that are black at the top and white at the bottom.
A reward of up to $10,000 is available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist. Anyone with information should call the Arson Hotline at 1.800.282.5804.