Neighbor's home damaged by vacant house fire - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Neighbor's home damaged by vacant house fire

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

A vacant house that caught fire early Tuesday morning is now slated for demolition at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The city and firefighters came to the conclusion that it was just too dangerous to leave the building standing.

Savannah Fire Officials said less than five percent of their fires happen in vacant homes. That number may seem low, but fire officials said if the home is vacant, that number should be zero.

Fire officials say weather is usually a factor in vacant house fires during the fall and winter when people are trying to get out of the cold and build a fire.

The rains were so bad on Monday, someone could have been seeking shelter, but officials said if vacant homes were secured properly, it wouldn't be an issue.

"Make [homes] secure as possible from the outside," said Savannah Fire and Emergency spokesman Mark Keller. "Make sure that people can't get in."

Most of the fires that Savannah Firefighters put out are at occupied homes, but occasionally they will get called to house fires where no one lives.

"They do pose the same initial challenge any structure fire would," said Keller.

But Keller said part of the problem, even if the fire is set by accident, the person responsible takes off, and by the time someone else notices it, it's too late.

"The longer it takes for us to get here, the more damage that's going to be done before we can get here," said Keller.

Investigators still don't know why this home on 38th Street caught fire, but the fire spread next door to David Bradley's home as well.

Bradley let WTOC inside of his house, and he said it's not livable at its current state, but it is salvageable.

He said he woke up to the sound of the fire alarm next door and said when he looked out of the window, he could barely see through the black smoke.

He and his family were able to make it outside safe, but he said he's not too surprised a fire was started in the vacant home because he sees people come and go all the time.

"It's frustrating," Bradley said.

He said he has seen people come and go from this property, and he has tried to do something about it.

"Yeah, there have been vagrants in and out of this house, around this house," said Bradley. "Some of that is living in the area I suppose, but it's certainly that it's vacant and that it's not maintained and it's not well secured, [it] provides places for these people."

"I've talked to the police officer around about it," he said. "I've certainly shooed them off when they are around."

According to the city, if a house is vacant, people should not be able to access any part of the property. If you see it happen, you should report it to the city's Property Maintenance by dialing 311.

"The best thing you can do is secure the outside and the inside, and I know that it's been said, the best way to secure it is to have occupants there, and that's probably true," said Keller.

If you live near a vacant home and have any kind of concerns about the safety of the vacant building or if you believe people are trespassing, call 311 and report it.

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