For this part of Poland St., concerns grows over empty houses

By Charles Sercombe
There are about 400 vacant houses in Hamtramck.
Over the past 12 months or so, several of them have been hit by arsonists. You can add two more to that list.
Around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, an empty two-family house at 2311-13 Poland St. went up in flames. Although the house was boarded shut, someone broke in and started a fire in the rear porch, said Fire Marshal Paul Wilk.
Recently, the empty house next to it also burned.
“I don’t know if we have a fire bug in the neighborhood or what,” Wilk said.
No matter what the cause, the fires have rattled the nerves of neighbors.
“Residents need to be on the lookout,” said Karl Petzold, who lives next door to the two houses. “We’ve got so many vacant houses around here. We’re concerned.”
This part of the block is under the shadow of St. Florian Church – one of the largest and most majestic of Catholic churches in the metro area. The houses here are kept up well and just a few short years ago no one would ever imagine even a single vacant house on the block.
Wilk said that so far there doesn’t appear to be a trend of arson fires occurring in empty houses.
Fortunately for the city, there is a plan to renovate some of the vacant houses and sell them. Others, like the house on Poland St., are probably too far gone to save and neighbors will have to wait until the city can afford to demolish them.

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