The number of vacant structure fires in Birmingham is on the rise. This year, there have been 25 fires in vacant structures. That's three more than this time last year.
Vacant and abandoned properties can pose safety challenges for everyone including neighbors, property owners, firefighters and police, according to Birmingham Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief C.W. Mardis. Mardis offered the following advice:
- Any vacant structures can become a safety hazard when not properly maintained
- It's important for neighbors to report any suspicious or illegal activity by calling 911.
- Do not confront anyone staying in an abandoned house.
- Call 311 to report a property that is open or to report anything on the property that could be a health or safety issue (trash, rodents, weeds, etc.).
- Keep your property and areas around vacant houses clean and clear of clutter and debris.
- Contact the property owner in writing, informing him/her of your concerns.
- If you own a vacant structure, be sure that it is boarded up, secured and remove all combustible materials and valuables.