Early morning fire in northwest Atlanta points to problem of vacant homes in the area. Video by John Spink / AJC

Early morning fire in northwest Atlanta points to problem of vacant homes in the area

A fire early Tuesday that destroyed an abandoned northwest Atlanta home highlighted concerns that firefighters and neighbors have with vacant houses in the area.

Fires in vacant houses have become a “very large problem,” Atlanta fire spokeswoman Janet Ward said Tuesday.

“Our investigators have investigated 10 fires so far this month,” Ward said. “Half of those have been of vacant houses.”

No injuries were reported in Tuesday’s fire on Bellview Avenue.

Atlanta fire Battalion Chief Stephen Hill said the house, which was unoccupied and boarded up, was 100 percent consumed by fire before crews could douse the flames, which for a time threatened nearby homes on both sides of the vacant house.

“Battalion 2 did a great, fantastic job stopping that fire, keeping it from getting any bigger,” Hill told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Hill said the building that burned was one of numerous abandoned houses in the area.

“Since it’s turned cold, we’ve had a few more [fires] at those abandoned structures,” he said. “We’re kind of concerned when those happen for the safety of our firefighters, because you don’t know what all’s in the structure and how well the structure’s still holding up to the elements.”

Even though the homes are abandoned and are supposed to be vacant, Hill said firefighters “still find people in them and are able to get them out to safety.”

Rabb Love lives down the street from the house that burned Tuesday morning.

“I do have concerns,” he said.

“There are quite a few abandoned homes around here,” Love said. “We have seven homes in this area alone that are abandoned. This affects my property value.”

Love said that Tuesday’s fire was the second recent blaze in an abandoned house on the street.

“I cannot necessarily blame people that are trying to find shelter to get out of the cold, but this is the end result,” he said.

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