AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Since December, several fires have started at abandoned homes within a one-block radius of Old Savannah Road and Sherman Street in Augusta. Due to the frequency of these structure fires, Fire Chief Christopher James is telling people in the area to be safe. During Tuesday’s press conference, Chief James was joined with some folks in the community, commissioners, and first responder agencies to figure out who or what is causing these fires.
“In the past 80-days, we’ve had five structure fires in this area,” said Chief James.
This chain of structure fires on Old Savannah Road and Sherman Street is alarming to the Augusta Fire Department. The fire chief says he doesn’t believe these cases are arson. But he is concerned about the safety of those who live in the area.
“There is about a couple of foot distance between those homes,” said Chief James. “We don’t want one vacant structure to catch on fire, and put other lives at risk.”
Out of the five abandoned and burned homes, three of those fires are under investigation. Chief James says there is a possibility that some people are using these homes to stay warm this winter.
“We will be reaching out to code enforcement, so they can reach out to the homeowners,” said Chief James. “To make sure if they do have an unoccupied home in this area,
They need to make sure it is secure.”
One person told NewsChannel 6 reporter, Devin Johnson, people who live there are worried about whoever is responsible for the fires aren’t thinking about the damage that could spread to other homes.
“Somebody tapped on my door and hollered there is a fire across the street,” explained Dennis Berrien. “I put on my clothes and sat on my porch. It was cold out here that morning, but I felt the heat from over there.”
The five properties that have been destroyed are on the list to be demolished by the city. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office will patrol this area frequently.
“We just felt like it was important to bring this issue to the citizen’s attention, so they can make a decision for themselves to be safe,” said James.
The Augusta Fire Department will host a community event sometime in April. Chief James says it’s a chance for the fire department to survey the neighbor and install smoke dectors.