What’s behind increase in vacant house fires?

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The city is seeing an increase so far this year in the number of fires at vacant buildings.

Dayton is projected to have 79 this year. That’s more than the last two years, which saw 61 and 62, but still less than the city’s peak of 92 in 2011.

Dayton Fire Chief Jeff Payne says there doesn’t appear to be one cause or one person behind the increase.

“There’s no real trend and it’s not really packed into a specific area,” Payne says.

While vacant fires are up, suspicious fires overall are projected at 131. That’s on pace with last year’s total of 127 and much lower than 2011 and 2012, which saw 186 and 181.

Payne says the addition of more arson investigators a few years ago is what brought that total lower.

“We’re just not going to let it happen,” Payne says.

Payne says each suspicious fire ties up resources that could slow response times to other fires. They also suck up your tax dollars.

“For each piece of equipment you’re looking at $200 or $300 an hour,” Payne says.

But Payne is hopeful the city will see a slowing of fires at vacant buildings as summer comes to a close.

“It typically does go down a little bit between now and the end of the year,” Payne says.

Payne asks that you call his department if you see any suspicious activity in vacant buildings in the city.

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