City of Dayton continues to deal with the challenges of vacant house fires

DAYTON — The Miami Valley has seen several vacant house fires in the last several weeks and the city has spent millions of state and federal dollars to take care of these properties.

>>PHOTOS: Firefighters battle structure fire in Dayton Sunday night

News Center 7 checked and nearly 100 vacant buildings burned throughout Dayton in 2022. That is an average of two per week.

More than 60 buildings burned the year before in 2021.

News Center 7′s Taylor Robertson reported from Riverside Drive in Dayton during News Center 7′s Daybreak on Thursday. It was where a vacant home caught fire Sunday night.

She spoke with Dayton Fire Captain Brad French about the serious threat these vacant homes can pose.

He said they are dangerous to everyone involved.

This includes people living in the nearby area, the other homes or buildings nearby, and then of course firefighters who come out to knock them down.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Firefighters encounter heavy flames at vacant house fire in Dayton

Captain French told Robertson it was up to the fire department’s incident commander and other city departments to order an emergency demolition on a vacant home that caught fire.

He said one of the biggest challenges in fighting vacant fires is the delayed notification they get as opposed to a home or building with people inside who will 911 as soon as they notice a fire started.

The causes of these fires vary.

Captain French said sometimes, they are intentionally set with criminal intent or sometimes it may be homeless people who live in the home cooking or trying to stay warm, and it got out of hand. They are also sometimes started by natural causes like lightning.

“We certainly would encourage folks living in neighborhoods throughout the city of Dayton, if you have vacant structures that are problematic in your neighborhood, make sure the city knows about that,” French told Robertson. “We want to decrease blight in the neighborhoods. We want to decrease the risk to citizens and the risk to firefighters as well.”

French said people in Dayton can visit the ‘Dayton Delivers App’ or this website to report vacant structures they think are an issue.

>>ORIGINAL COVERAGE: Firefighters battle structure fire in Dayton Sunday night

Robertson also spoke with Steve Gondol with the Department of Planning.

He said the city is looking to knock down not only vacant homes but also homes that could be occupied but are considered a structural nuisance.

If the home is occupied, the city will let the property owner know that the home has enough damage to it that it needs to be addressed.

Gondol said properties can be corrected and restored while others need to be taken down as soon as possible.

He told Robertson it depends on how dangerous the condition of the home is to the immediate area.

Gondol added that the city is currently demolishing homes where the owners have not communicated with the city and no corrective action on the home has been made.

“And likely, the deterioration has progressed so far that rehabilitation is highly unlikely,” he said. “And so those properties are being demolished currently.”

Robertson reports so far, the city has completed 142 demolitions already exceeding the amount they tore down last year.

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