Local News

Durham Police Try to Smoke Out Arsonist

Posted April 15, 1998

— Four empty building have gone up in flames in Durham in the past two weeks.

Fire fighters, business owners and neighbors fear that there could be someone inside the next one.

Thursday, police searched for clues and are asking for help from the public in hopes that someone will come forward with information.

All four of the houses were along Gregg St. and were abandoned, but there are occupied houses near by on Kate St.

"I am really worried about our firefighters," Durham Fire Investigator Edward Reid said, "Some of these buildings are old and boarded up, I'm worried about the firefighters that have to fight the fires. In these older homes there is a lot of drug traffic comes through."

Investigators suspect that drug users are using the old houses, and are starting the fires.

John McCrea, who runs a salvage yard across from one of the burnt buildings, said that the city could have prevented the arson spree by demolishing the buildings sooner.

"I think that someone will come and torch it again with the way that its looking," McCrea said. "I think that it would be a good thing to get this whole area cleaned up. It's better for business, because now customers are scared to come down due to the destructive activity."

The city did demolish one of the buildings, but not until it was destroyed by fire.

Police are encouraging anyone with information to call the Durham Crimestoppers.

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