Campbell sees drop in arson fires due to demolitions, says fire - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Campbell sees drop in arson fires due to demolitions, says fire chief

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CAMPBELL, Ohio -

For the third night in a row, Youngstown Firefighters were called out to battle flames at vacant homes. All were on different sides of the city.

Fighting these fires is dangerous for the firefighters and for the neighbors and their homes.

"You get holes in the floors and stuff like that and if the house is vacant you can't assume it's vacant. You have to go in and take a quick search and make sure there's no one in there and that's when people get hurt," said Campbell City Fire Chief Nicholas Hrelec.

Chief Hrelec said they've had success in stopping vacant house fires by simply getting rid of the vacant houses.

The chief says arson calls have declined in Campbell in recent years because the city's property specialist has worked with the Mahoning County Landbank to demolish more and more vacant homes.

Traveling around Campbell you can see the signs where they've helped to clean up these properties.

Roger Smith of the Mahoning County Landbank said, "So far, over the last 3 1/2  years, we've been able to take down over 70 properties of vacant and abandoned houses in Campbell itself and we have another 15 planned in the upcoming year."

So what about Youngstown? With several thousand vacant properties, it's more difficult to make a dent.  But they are trying. 

"Certainly when you concentrate demolitions in a smaller geography it eliminates the potential for arson in smaller communities and we've seen that bare itself out over the last couple years," said Smith.

The Landbank has demolished nearly 700 homes in Youngstown alone over the last three years at a cost of $5,000-$10,000 each.  They have another year left on a grant to do more. 

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