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Vacant houses pose a threat of arson spree

By Charles Sercombe
Firefighters are crossing their fingers.
Crossing their fingers in hope that what appears to be a budding trend doesn’t become a full-blown arson spree. In the past two weeks two fires have been started in abandoned houses on the southend, on Faber and Danforth.
On Wednesday afternoon, a single-family house on Danforth caught on fire in the basement and managed to spreads to a vacant house next-door. Firefighters are not sure how it started but believe it was intentionally set.
The Faber St. fire was also set in the afternoon.
“We’re concerned with that,” said Fire Chief Steve Paruk. “We’re concerned that someone in the area is doing this.”
The fire marshal is following up on one tip about a suspect, but unless there is an admission of guilt or an eye-witness, it’s difficult to prosecute.
The potential for an arson spree is compounded by the fact that there are over 400 vacant or abandoned houses in the city, and that number appears to be growing as more and more homeowners default on their mortgages and taxes.
The Danforth house was put up for auction by the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office in September but no one put a bid on it. Paruk said the county will give the house to the city for demolition. The city is able to tap into a grant to cover the $7,000 cost to raze the house.
Paruk advises homeowners who live near vacant houses to keep outdoor lights on at night and to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior or people going in and out of vacant homes. If you do see something suspicious, call 911.

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