KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Firefighters are concerned about the number of homes that catch fire after they're labeled "meth houses."
Boarded up buildings that often turn to ashes are becoming all too familiar sights.
“These boarded up meth houses, I think they're becoming a problem,” Jefferson Fire Chief Mark Ford said.
A trailer in Jefferson was destroyed after it caught fire early Friday morning. It's a former meth house, and firefighters say the fire is suspicious.
Since 2009, 17 meth houses in Kanawha County alone have caught fire rather than cleaned up or properly demolished.
“It seems to be the path of least resistance for some homeowners who just don't have the funds and may not be eligible for the crime victims’ fund,” Kanawha County Planning Director David Armstrong said.
In this case, firefighters were told the house had been cleaned and was even ready to be rented. However, that's not usually the case.
“People don't have the money to get them up and rolling the way they're supposed to be. They're an eyesore. The next thing you know, this is what happens to them,” Ford said.
They're not only an eyesore, but also -- a sign of a much bigger problem.
“It's very disheartening,” Armstrong said. “For one, you hate to see people that are that addicted to something that it’s ruining their life.”
Seventeen meth houses burning in the past few years are 17 too many.
However, it’s actually not as many as the number of buildings that are cleaned up and made livable again. There have been 66 of them.
Overall, there have been 128 meth labs in Kanawha County buildings since 2009.