UPDATE: Neighbors Call for West Side Crime Watch after Latest Arson

By: Jennifer Rizzi, Brooks Jarosz, Alex Snyder Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi, Brooks Jarosz, Alex Snyder Email

UPDATE 11/12/12 @ 11:15 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- After arsonists struck in a West Side neighborhood for the fourth time in the past several months, neighbors are fed up with fearing for their safety.

Charleston firefighters responded to 1547 Garfield Ave. on West Side Hill about 6:30 p.m. Saturday for a home engulfed in flames, which they determined was no accident.

Ebony Hairston lived nearby and knows firsthand the feeling of losing a home since hers was also recently targeted by arsonists. It went up in flames not once, but twice in mid-October.

Hairston says she's had enough of seeing them destroy the community's sense of security - so she's determined to take action. She plans to organize a neighborhood crime watch on the West Side Hill to catch the criminals in action.

"I want to be the person to raise brows and open people's eyes to the things that are going on," she said. "If I can get someone to help me do this, I think the community would be a lot safer."

Michele Smith also lives on the hill and says she's on board with the idea.

"I think a [crime watch] would be really good to have," she said. "It's scary when you're afraid to lay down and go to sleep, especially if you have children."

Hairston believes working together is the only way to solve the problem and put the arsonists behind bars.

"As a community, as a family ...we can all band together and make it a better neighborhood," she said. "Make the West Side the best side, like it's supposed to be."

Anyone with information is asked to call the arson hotline at 1-800-233-FIRE.

UPDATE 11/11/12 @ 6:07 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) – A pile of ashes and charred wood is all that’s left and Zina Ford and her family can’t believe it – their uncle’s home, where so many memories were made, burnt to the ground.

"You know, this house right here that burned up is very sentimental to me because I watched my uncle each and every time bring brick by brick and make this and build this house for his family," said Zina Ford, niece of the homeowner whose house was destroyed by an arson fire.

On Saturday evening, their house on West Side Hill went up in flames, and investigators say it was no accident.

"It's so hurting that someone would go through domestic measures just to burn somebody's house down. For what? What did my uncle ever do to anybody but try to help you? He's always tried to help people and it's just hurting, it's just hurting," said Ford.

This was more than just a house, it was a safe haven for anyone who needed a hand.

"We was all born and raised up here. You know, no matter what we did, no matter what crimes we done, my Uncle Bob always made sure that we had a house to live in and a place to lay our head," said Ford.

But instead of dwelling on the negative, Zina and her family will cherish and remember the good times they had at the house.

"We used to spend the nights up here and watch chiller and have cookouts and didn't have to worry about nothing but the deers and maybe some bears -- but other than that, I have great memories of this hill."

The house may be destroyed, but the fire couldn’t take their memories.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A home went up in flames Saturday evening and fire investigators say it was no accident.

Charleston firefighters responded to 1547 Garfield Avenue on West Side Hill about 6:30 p.m. Saturday for a home engulfed by flames.

Firefighters say the flames were shooting from the roof and windows. The home was destroyed.

Investigators have ruled the fire arson. Both the Charleston fire and police departments are investigating.

If you have any information, call the Fire Prevention Bureau and Investigation Division at 304-348-8058.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for updates.

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