YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A house fire on East Myrtle Avenue this weekend marked Youngstown’s 53rd arson this year. It’s the city’s fourth arson this month.

The remains of the house on East Myrtle were town down Thursday following a fire Saturday that lit up the entire street and consumed the abandoned house and the one next door.

Fire Investigator Kurt Wright said he’s seen an increase in fires on the city’s South Side in recent years.

“There is a trend that’s been for the past several years, at least in my experience, a high amount of fires on the South Side as compared to other sides of town,’ he said.

Marva Dobbs has lived on Youngstown’s South Side her whole life.

“We hear gunshots all the time… All through the night. Now there’s fires. So it’s an unfortunate situation,” she said.

Dobbs said the recent arsons worry her and her neighbors.

“Either it’s arson or it’s a person lighting a fire so they can stay warm. It’s a grave concern of mine,” she said.

While fires may be increasing on the South Side, the number of arsons in the city is trending down. There have been 53 cases of arson so far this year. About 20 of those were vacant homes.
Last year, 77 fires were ruled arson, 27 of those were abandoned homes.

“I attribute a lot of that primarily to the increase in demolition that the city has undertaken and town down a lot of these structures,” he said.

Wright said he’s in contact with the director of demolition projects every day, working to get abandoned homes at risk of arson torn down.

Not every arson case is an abandoned home such as the October 12 fire on Logan Avenue.

Earlier this year, an arson on Norwood Avenue at the same time as another fire stressed the department’s resources. Three firefighters were injured.

Firefighter union president Jon Racco said they have become very familiar with fires like this over the years.

“This experience, unfortunately, comes at a price with our firefighters’ blood, sweat and tears. Although it can be frustrating to see neighborhoods intentionally destroyed, it never takes away the main goal of our firefighters,” he said.

The department is still investigating the cause of the fire on East Myrtle.

Wright said just because arson has decreased, it doesn’t mean other calls have…
and says their overall number of runs are much higher than he’s ever experienced.
In Youngstown, Abigail Cloutier, WKBN 27 First News.