SHARON, Ohio (WKBN) – The Sharon Fire Department responded to 26 fires so far this year. The latest happened early Tuesday morning.
Flames broke out about 1:30 a.m. at a vacant house on Columbia Street.
Neighbor Lisa Hall said she was outside in her backyard when she heard a window break and then heard someone run away from the house. A few minutes later, she saw flames coming from the house and called 911.
Sharon Fire Chief Robert Fiscus said there are 200 vacant houses in the city. It’s a $1.5 million liability and one the city is not financially able to tackle. He said about 10 abandoned houses are torn down each year. It may be a slow process, but it’s no reason for anyone to set a house on fire. Fiscus said most of the time, a burned-out shell of a house is left behind that creates a worse eyesore.
“It’s an unsafe situation for the firefighters and citizens. I would ask if anyone is lighting houses, I would ask them to stop,” Fiscus said. “It concerns me. I don’t want to get anyone hurt. We have to treat the fires as if it is occupied.”
Fiscus said some vacant houses are used for training purposes and are burned down, but many vacant houses in the city don’t qualify because they are too close to other homes or power lines.
Fiscus said the best line of defense in arson is for neighbors to report any suspicious activity at the properties.
The cause of the fire on Columbia Street has not been determined. The Pennsylvania State Fire Marshal is investigating.