CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Abandoned homes are a problem the City of Charleston has faced for decades.
The Count on 2 Investigators have followed the city’s efforts to maintain vacant homes over the years. On Thursday, News 2 discovered recent fires in vacant buildings led city officials back to the drawing board to make sure they are doing enough to ensure public safety.
In May, The Charleston Fire Department said they needed the public’s help to keep vacant properties locked up and secure.
Their reminder came after four fires in vacant homes in just two months. All the homes showed signs of squatters.
Through our investigation, we discovered there are about 250 vacant properties the city is currently monitoring – an improvement from the 323 reported in 2016.
City Council Member Peter Shahid says they are discussing the problem to ensure the fire department has the support they need.
Dan Riccio, the city’s livability director, said it’s typically hard to hold people accountable since an original homeowner often leaves the property to many family members or friends or it’s tied up in what’s called heirs property disputes.