The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local News

February 13, 2013

Neighbors: Fire is latest in string of arsons

ANDERSON, Ind. — Firefighters doused a small fire in an abandoned shack Wednesday afternoon, but neighbors expressed concerns about a perceived trend.

Anderson Battalion Chief Gary Condon said no one was hurt in the blaze near the intersection of 29th and Fountain streets, and firefighters had the flames under control within a half hour of arriving.

The structure hasn’t had utilities hooked up for some time, Condon said.

January Rebl, who lives with her family in the house next door to the small building, said she called 911 when her daughter Katelynn Amos noticed the smoke and flames.

“This isn’t the first time,” Rebl said.

Rebl pointed to three dilapidated nearby buildings and said similar fires occurred at each one over the winter. She said she believes Wednesday’s fire is the latest in a string of arsons in the surrounding area.

“I was in the house and heard screeching, like tires, and I looked outside and there was a green truck leaving,” Rebl said. “Not much longer, the place is on fire. I heard a few neighbors say they saw some kids running out of the house.”

Condon said he couldn’t make any determination about the cause of the fire until investigators examined the site.

Amos, who first noticed the fire, said she was concerned about her son, whose room is just a few feet from the shack.

“I came outside and saw the house was on fire, and I didn’t know what to think,” Amos said. “I just hoped no one was in there. It scared me.”

Jerry Rouse, another neighbor, said he also suspects the same people are vandalizing abandoned structures in the neighborhood. He pointed out four buildings and said he’s seen fires at those shacks.

“There are a lot of houses out here just like that, and it seems like they’re being burnt down about every three weeks,” Rouse said. “A lot of them have been abandoned for 30 years, and nothing is done about it. They just put out the fires and leave them.”

Rebl and Rouse both said they’re concerned the structures are being used as drug labs.

Find Jack Molitor on Facebook and @AggieJack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.

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