Battling vacant house fires costs taxpayers thousands - - Jackson, MS

Battling vacant house fires costs taxpayers thousands

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

All too often burned structures dot the landscape of many Jackson neighborhoods. They are eyesores to residents but also a burden on the city and fire department resources.

"Every house fire the Jackson Fire Department firefighters respond to, we treat it as an occupied home," said Jackson Fire Department Division Chief Cleotha Sanders.
Even if a house has been vacant for years firefighters are tasked with entering the building and conducting searches just in case someone was inside illegally.

"Our number one priority is life safety. So sometimes we have encountered a deceased person inside of a structure. Those are the times that we call tragic," added Sanders.
And the aftermath of a fire can be tragic for residents who are forced to watch the buildings further deteriorate.

"People were coming taking windows out," said an Oak Forest Drive resident we will call Tosha.
The house across the street from her's was vacant for quite some time before it went up in flames on New Year's Day of this year.

"I was asleep and my kids came and said the house is on fire. So I looked out the window and the house was on fire," said Tosha. "They need to do something about it. either tear the house down or fix it." 

Residents said the aftermath can take a toll on a neighborhood; blighted structures that sometimes sit for years, bringing down their property values and attracting a criminal element.

From the intersection of Florence Avenue and Wiggins Street to the dead end there are 11 vacant houses on the street. Six are burned. Four are boarded up, and only one is occupied. 

An entire street practically abandoned, but there's another cost.

 In Jackson responding to each fire costs the city anywhere from $1,600.00 to $2,000.00 for a minimum of two hours at the scene with 18 to 20 firefighters at work.

To report vacant houses in Jackson dial 311 or contact the city's Community Improvement Division at 601-960-1054.

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