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Neighbor concerned over rise in vacant house fires
Firefighters said vacant house fires are a growing problem throughout the Valley, with one home burning for the third time on Friday morning. Video by ktnv.comvideo
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Firefighters said vacant house fires are a growing problem throughout the Valley, with one home burning for the third time on Friday morning.
What's left of the structure at 5765 East Lake Mead Boulveard is boarded up. Debris is scattered throughout the yard. Neighbors said Friday's fire was the third in three months. Now, they want to know what can be done to prevent a fourth fire.
"That building needs to come down," said neighbor Steve Castle. "It's been burned out internally."
Firefighters believe homeless people may have been staying at the home. Castle said no one has lived or worked at the structure in nearly two years. He's concerned his business could be affected by another fire.
"It flares up. It takes my building. My livelihood is gone," said Castle.
Action News was able to track down the property's owner, Donald Hafen. He said our calls were the first he heard of Friday's fire. Unable to rent the building, Hafen said he locked the doors and put bars over the windows to keep people from getting in.
"They busted the door down back," Hafen said about the first entry. Afterwards, he believes someone may have entered the building through a window.
The problem, which goes beyond this empty home, is likely tied to the economic downturn, according to firefighters. The Clark County Fire Department said the number of vacant house fires has been on the rise, from 24 in 2010 to 31 in 2012. Firefighters don't know what caused this fire. But in many cases, firefighters said homeless people make their way into a home and start a fire by trying to cook or stay warm.
Deputy fire chief J. Klassen said neighbors should call their municipal government or police department if they suspect someone is living illegally in a vacant home.
"I'd bring a tractor in today. Knock it down and haul it off to the dump," said Castle.
Due to extensive damage, Hafen said he will likely have to demolish the home by the end of the month.