String of Suspicious House Fires Continues in Jacksonville

By Jeremy Coumbes on May 24, 2022 at 9:55am

The Office of the State Fire Marshal and Jacksonville Police are investigating after yet another vacant house on the city’s northeast side was gutted by fire Monday afternoon.

The Jacksonville Fire Department was called to the scene of a structure fire at 607 North East Street just before 4:00 pm Monday. The two-story house was a divided duplex and is now a total loss after being gutted by the blaze.

Jacksonville Fire Chief Doug Sills says the house was fully involved when crews arrived. “The structure’s pretty unstable right now, it’s kind of difficult to get into it safely. We’ve done some preliminary and it looks like it’s this southern unit of a duplex. It started in the charlie side or the rear of the structure and then just progressed through the structure.

On arrival, the guys met with heavy fire conditions and it remained a defensive attack throughout given that it was vacant. The fire was brought under control and they did do primary and secondary searches to clear the building and make sure there wasn’t any squatters in it. Other than that it’s just going to be an ongoing investigation with JPD and the State Fire Marshal trying to determine exactly what happened here.

We are deeming it suspicious in nature. There was power to one side of the duplex but not the other. Right now we’re not seeing anything that would lead us to believe it’s electrical in nature.”

No one was injured in the blaze and crews from Jacksonville and South Jacksonville were on scene for more than two hours. The fire is another in a string of suspicious fires in vacant homes dating back to last year.

On the morning of Sunday, May 5th fire gutted a single-story home at 320 Farrell Street. Police reported at the time that someone was seen entering the house and then quickly leaving again just before the fire broke out. On March 15th, a house burned to the ground at the corner of Farrell and Beesley Streets. Ten days later another vacant home caught fire at 603 North Fayette.

Two adjacent homes in the 700 block of North Main Street burned in separate incidents in May and November of last year. In each case, no electric or gas service was active to the properties and each had been vacant for a length of time before they caught fire.

Jacksonville Fire and Police officials are continuing to ask the public to pay attention to vacant properties in their neighborhood and report any suspicious activity. The investigations into these fires remain ongoing.