UPDATE: Vacant Building Fire Sparked By Homeless, Investigators Say

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 12/29/12 at 5:09 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) – Inside a vacant building in downtown Charleston, a fire being used for warmth spread out of control.

Firefighters responded just after midnight Saturday to the 200 block of Leon Sullivan Way.

Two rooms are left with evidence of fire and smoke damage. They suspect homeless people were trying to keep warm.

"They're looking for anything and everything they can to burn," said Jean Simpson, executive director at Manna Meal, Inc.

Simpson says there are a number of reasons people decide to stay in vacant buildings instead of shelters, including drug and alcohol abuse and overcrowding at shelters.

"It just breaks my heart," said Simpson.

But, she says there’s not much that can be done about it.

"I mean, as far as it being a health hazard -- of course it is. As far as it being a hazard to the city -- of course it is. I mean if buildings are catching on fire because they're trying to light fires -- you know, who's the next building to burn down and the next building to burn down, who knows," said Simpson.

The depths of the cold winter months are right around the corner and the fire risk isn’t going away overnight.

"So it's extremely dangerous and there is a lot of residents throughout the east end that are vacant and that's just where those people are going -- they're at least putting some kind of shelter over their head," said Simpson.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Firefighters are on the scene of a structure fire in Charleston.

Dispatchers say an office building in the 200 block of Leon Sullivan Way caught fire just after 12:00 a.m. Saturday.

The building is believed to be abandoned.

Dispatchers say one person was inside at the time of the fire. He has been treated by medics on the scene and is now being questioned by police.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

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