Residents concerned over vacant house fires

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Charleston firefighters responded to Miller Street early Tuesday morning for a fire inside the garage of a vacant home.

Curtis Symns is the fire marshal investigating. He says the fire is suspicious.

“The call was from an abandoned house or a vacant house that was on fire,” said Symns. “Someone had broken into the garage and slept in there. We could tell because mattresses and things like that were in there.”

James Gayle lives one street over. He said vacant house fires are a problem and a house burned next to his last year.

“It was burning while I was in bed,” said Gayle. “I have lived here for about 5 years and it is getting worse every day. They come through, and one time they thought they could take over my back yard and I had to keep running them away.”

This year, the fire department says they’ll see a similar amount of fires as in years past.

“It is starting to get colder, so we will start picking up on fires. We have had 92 this year. We average around 100 to 120, so we are right on track, sadly, to hit our mark as we usually do,” said Symns.

In Gayle’s neighborhood, residents take matters into their own hands, keeping vacant houses boarded up so it’s harder to get inside.

“You have to have a certain amount of watching, you know. Police your own area, sort of,” said Gayle.

Gayle said his solution would be to tear the vacant homes down.

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