Early Morning Blaze Marks 10th Suspicious Vacant Structure Fire Since 2021

By Jeremy Coumbes on September 22, 2022 at 3:25pm

No one was injured when a vacant house on Jacksonville’s northeast side caught fire early this morning.

The Jacksonville Fire Department was called to the scene of a structure fire at 408 North Fayette Street at 5:00 am today.

According to a report, firefighters witnessed a large amount of fire at the rear of the structure on arrival and were able to quickly bring the fire under control containing the blaze to the rear of the structure.

Fire Chief Doug Sills says the fire is being deemed as suspicious as no utilities were active at the home which had been unoccupied at the time.

We’re still trying to make contact with the owner to try and determine if there was insurance on the property or not. There was evidence on the second floor of the residence of some active squatting going on. Some information received from a neighbor that he had seen some people coming and going but not here recently.”

No estimate of losses was available as of press time. A cause of the fire has not been determined yet and investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshall have been called in.

The fire is now the 10th in a long string of suspicious fires in the northeastern part of the city dating back to last year when a pair of neighboring vacant houses on North Main Street burned in separate incidents in May and November.

Suspicious fires have occurred on West Lafayette, and North East Street, with two separate fires on Farrell Street, and today’s fire is within eyesight of a home that was burned at 603 North Fayette in March of this year.

In each case, no electricity, gas, or water was hooked up to structures and each had been unoccupied for an extended period of time.

Sills continues to ask the public to be vigilant and if you have vacant or unoccupied houses in your area to keep an eye on them and notify authorities if you see people coming and going that shouldn’t be there.

Anyone with any information on any of these fires is urged to leave an anonymous tip with Morgan, Scott, Cass County Crime Stoppers at 217-243-7300.