CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – In the past two months, four fires have erupted at vacant buildings in the City of Charleston. In each case, the buildings were not properly secured and investigators found signs of squatters.
The Charleston Fire Department is asking for your help in reducing fires in vacant homes.
If you are a property owner or property manager, the fire department wants to remind you that it is your responsibility to keep these homes and buildings weather-tight and secured.
If you are a community member you are encouraged to keep an eye out for suspicious or potentially dangerous activity.
A look at the city’s data shows there are currently 250 vacant properties ranging from good to critical condition, and tracks when they have been summoned or are under renovation.
One of the properties on this list was the scene of a fire earlier month. Investigators say they found signs of squatters inside the Sheppard Street home where took firefighters 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze.
Fire investigators found similar signs at three other fires they responded to in the past two months on vacant properties.
Count on 2 investigators looked into this problem back in 2016. Since then, the number of vacant properties is down but many say more still needs to be done to manage vacant structures that can be eye sores, or worse—the sites of crime.
“We ask that if you have these buildings in your area, help us keep an eye on them. If you see buildings that are unsecured, please call our livability division or email them directly,” said Chief Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh. “If you see individuals in and out of these structures, please call 911. The police will respond and try to remove those individuals from the buildings and then notify the proper departments who will need to secure the structure.”