String of fires costing Henderson taxpayers
Posted February 3, 2009 4:36 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT
Henderson, N.C. — The city of Henderson has formed an arson task force to find out how to deal with a string of house fires over the past year that have cost about $13,000 to put out.
Since last January, firefighters have battled 25 blazes that investigators say have been set, mostly in old abandoned houses, Henderson Fire Chief Danny Wilkerson said.
This year, alone, there have been eight fires – three of which occurred on Saturday.
"What bothers me is the danger it causes our citizens living adjacent to these houses," Wilkerson said.
Robert Drumgold, who lives next to a house that burned on Monday, says he and other residents are worried, too.
"I didn't even sleep much last night, because I kept going to the window and and looking to see if the house was going to blaze back up," he said.
Neighbors say the houses themselves are part of the problem. Many of them are dilapidated and vacant and need to be demolished, they said.
Over the past two years, the city has spent about $80,000 tearing down houses, but getting to 120 others in the community would be costly, city officials say.
For now, the task force, made up of the Henderson police and fire departments as well as the State Bureau of Investigation, will work on catching the culprit.
"I don't know what's going on," said Carl Kearney, who lives next to a house that burned Monday morning. "But somebody's doing it, and they need to put a stop to it."