Suspicious fires lead to worries for chief

Residents were told to leave a Girard house a day before a fire broke out.
GIRARD -- Fire Chief Kenneth Bornemiss is concerned that neighbors may be injured if suspicious fires continue to break out in condemned houses.
Bornemiss was worried after the latest fire of suspicious origin erupted Saturday night at a vacant house at 412 Idaho Ave.
James Dobson, city health commissioner, said he had condemned the house Thursday and posted an eviction notice Friday -- the day before the fire.
The Idaho home is owned by Skiffy Realty, Niles, and was rented by Lorraine Walton.
Sees a bad pattern
Health board member Charles Ague had said he was tired of watching the woman and her family move from home to home here, destroying property and making life uncomfortable for those living near them.
Walton has denied the allegations against her, accusing the city of harassing her.
In late August, city board of health members passed a motion to have the law director look into any possible way to declare a person a nuisance and no longer allowed to reside in the city. Law Director Mark Standohar said that possibility was doubtful.
Five homes damaged
Dobson said the family has damage fived homes, sometimes beyond repair, in the past seven years. He said the city had to take on the expense of demolishing one home in which she once lived.
Bornemiss said this is the second fire this month in the same area. A fire of suspicious origin broke out Sept. 1 at 418 Indiana Ave., a block away from the Idaho house.
There are three or more condemned houses remaining in the area, the chief explained.
"I'm worried about what may occur," he said, noting the houses are close together. Families live on each side of the condemned houses and could be injured if fire breaks out.
Bornemiss said the fire on Idaho remains under investigation. It started in the first floor of the slab where the furnace is located.
Walton's belongings were in the house when firefighters arrived Saturday.
Ruled suspicious
The Indiana fire has been ruled suspicious because the utilities had been turned off. There, a man slept in the abandoned house. Firefighters found only the remains of food and soft drinks inside.
When suspicious fires are deemed arson, Dobson explained, the city receives 10 percent of the settlement between the structure owner and their insurance carrier. If the structure is not razed or repaired, the city uses the money to demolish it.

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