Questions Surround City's Handling of Vacant Homes After Two Go Up in Flames
Since Monday, three homes in the Sherman park neighborhood have been destroyed by fire. Two were vacant. While authorities search for answers on how the fires started, CBS 58's April Dovorany asked how they can be prevented.
Tuesday morning: a house fire on 50th and Clarke so hot it burned through the first hose line put down put down by the Milwaukee Fire Department. It took 70 firefighters to extinguish and damaged the home next door.
Thursday morning: almost the same scene, just a different location.
A home near 33rd and Hadley started burning near 5 AM with flames jumping over to the duplex next door.
In both cases the flames from the vacant homes spread, displacing families in entirely different properties.
"We're going to make sure this is something we have good control over. You'll see more monitoring of police on the buildings," said Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett.
The Dept. of Neighborhood Services says there's more than 4,400 vacant properties in the city so we asked what's being done to make sure something like this doesn't happen again?
The mayors answer? Sell them.
"We're aggressively trying to sell as many properties as we own as possible. I want these houses and businesses back in circulation, I want people
to live in them, I want businesses to operate in them," he said.
But DNS tells us a large majority, about 3500 of these homes and buildings, are privately owned with the goal of being fixed by the owners and reinspected within six months so many of them do sit vacant but not abandoned.
While no one from the Committee on Redevelopment of Abandoned homes would talk to us about how often these vacant homes are checked the mayor says things are being done to prevent more damage.
"The DNS is in contact with the police department to make sure the vacant buildings don't become targets," he said.
While the fires did happen relatively close to Sherman Park, officials cannot say if they're related to this weekend's disturbances.