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City fires endanger firefighters

Published: Thu, May 31, 2012 @ 11:14 a.m.

YOUNGSTOWN — A 36-year-old city man who is a suspect in at least two of today's arsons was arrested.

Spencer Morris Washington is accused of setting fire to vacant homes on Falls Avenue and Breaden avenues, both owned at one time by his grandfather — and the suspect's father, Spencer Morris, said he knows his son's motive.

"He set two of his grandfather's houses on fire because he was angry with him. ... He did it to get back at me," Morris said.

Morris said he got into an argument Wednesday with his son, who has previous substance abuse problems.

"I told police: 'What's the odds of two of my father's houses getting set on fire? ... He told me he was going to burn the house down. He said 'I'm going to take away your memories,'" Morris said.

Morris said his father lived in the house from 1959 until 2005, when he died at age 104.

At least 11 separate fires Wednesday night kept firefighters busy and endangered emergency personnel.

The first fire to be ignited was at the RRI tire recycling plant, on Brittain Avenue off of Poland Avenue. The fire started just after 10 p.m. with billows of black smoke filling the air around the area.

The tire business fire was just the beginning.

Additional fires from various parts of the South Side followed the tire plant. Most of the buildings burned were vacant homes.

After the Washington arrest, however, another fire was reported on Almyra Avenue. Fire officials raced to the scene causing a 10 a.m. news conference on the rash of fires to be canceled.


1republicanRick(1735 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

The Youngstown demolition department is incompetent.

Youngstown City slow to provide money for demolition.

Columbus politicians don't come up with demoltion money. Bob Hagan runs around chasing oil drillers. Bob Gerberry just wants to know where to pick up his next paycheck.

Washington provides no money and turns Youngstown down for HUD money because of misspellings on applications. Tim Ryan, instead of getting on HUD's case in support of Youngstown, is off writing a book on yoga.

Federal EPA puts onerous laws about tearing down homes, which drastically drives up the demolition costs to already strapped cities.

Meanwhile last night, some guy with 10 bucks worth of gasoline and a book of matches, has done more to solve Youngstown's blight than all the government agencies and politicians combined.

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2Billy_Bob(60 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm glad to hear the responding personnel were safe.

What has this area come to? Vigilantes burning down vacant homes is now the only way to get rid of blighted building and homes?

The local and stage gov't need to intervene and start bulldozing these vacant and crime infested homes/buildings.

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3JoeFromHubbard(1806 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Burning would be much quicker considering all of the bureaucratic red tape the city must go through to do the job legally.

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4CantStandYa(222 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

You all might have a point.

At least if they are controlled burns they could be used to train firefighters from other towships and it could be used as a learning tool.

Lets get this program in place.... all you'd need is two gallons of gas and a lighter... thats ten bucks?

You could even charge other townships for the training to help with the cleanup costs of the burnt debris field left over.

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5republicanRick(1735 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Local, State, and Federal government have ignored and abandoned the good people of Youngstown. They allow city residents to live in blighted, squalid neighborhoods.

Our elected state and federal congressmen live a life of kings and royalty while the city rots.

The people of Youngstown need to learn to fend for themselves. Their government ignores them.

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6janeyblue(227 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Because permits are needed on every level. The EPA must be involved. This is why practice burns have all but stopped.

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7VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

A lot of toxins are introduced into the air when a house is burned...all the toxins that fell on the house when industry was at its fullest. Plus the shingles, lead based paints, petroleum based flooring and siding, asbestos, mercury, metals, and etc. That is why a home is sprayed with water during a demolition...to keep the toxic dust down.

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8maxborenstein(27 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

If Youngstown would get caught up and stay caught up on demolitions, opportunities would not exist for arsons such as these to occur. The residents are sick of hearing that not enough money is available for demolitions, while at the same time the city is hiring park directors and other nonessential personnel. All new hiring should be frozen until Youngstown is caught up on demolitions. All revenues above expectations should be spent on demolitions. Cut back on nonessentials and spend more on demolitions. Slumlords who abandon their spent rental units and are within grasp of the court system should be jailed if necessary to force them to demolish and clean up their nuisance properties at their own expense.

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9JoeFromHubbard(1806 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago


> > > all the toxins that fell on the house when industry was at its fullest < < <

If you're worried about a little dirt that fell on the area over 40 years ago, I can recommend a qualified therapist.

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