Local fire department addresses community concerns over vacant building fires

After a string of fires at vacant and blighted buildings, many are reaching out to the Terre Haute Fire Department with questions. News 10 spoke with an official to find out those answers.

Posted: Oct 9, 2019 9:52 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- After a string of fires at vacant and blighted buildings, many are reaching out to the Terre Haute Fire Department with questions.

Some took to social media to weigh-in and mentioned vacant buildings as a majority of the fire department's workload.

News 10 spoke with an official to find out those answers.

Arson Investigator, Norm Loudermilk, tells us that out of all the fires the department handles, only 15% are related to vacant buildings.

"Most of our fires are in residential structures where people occupy them or maybe they weren't home," said Loudermilk. "They are not abandoned or vacant buildings."

He also clarified the reasoning for some of those vacant buildings.

"Just because it's vacant does not mean it's abandoned. It could be waiting for a student to move in, be re-modeled, or used by an arsonist to set fire," said Loudermilk.

He says vacant building fires are a relatively small number compared to other fire causes.

"Of all the fires we have that's a very very small amount. So if we have 100 fires a year, we don't, but if we did, you know 15% not very much," said Loudermilk.

While vacant buildings are not their full-time duty, the fire department does want you to be aware of suspicious activity in those vacant spaces.

"If you see something, say something to the department," said Loudermilk.

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