Three Red-Tagged Home Fires, Two Days

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Lansing fire investigators say a home in Gier Street was intentionally set on fire Thursday afternoon.

Around the same time, firefighters responded to a home fire on Jones Street.

The day before, investigators say arsonists set fire to a home on E. Main Street.

So is there a connection?

"Right now we can't say that they're connected," Assistant Fire Marshal Brad Drury said. "We don't believe they are."

But Drury says investigators are continuing to look at the fires. Until the investigation is complete, he says the department can't rule out a connection.

There is one thing the fire sites share: all are red-tagged.

"A red-tagged house or an abandoned house lends itself to more opportunites for vandals to go in and do damage or start a fire," Drury said.

The mayor says the fact that the homes were red-tagged or abandoned shows just how much of a problem such homes are for the city.

"Which is why we've moved aggressively," Mayor Virg Bernero said. "We have addtional premise officers, we have more code enforcement officers. We're moving aggressively in court to go after absentee landlords on these properties."

And the city does try to keep the properties boarded up to prevent people from living in them. Investigators believe the Jones Street fire was an accident caused by people living in the home illegally.

The fires are proof, the mayor says, that red-tagged homes use more emergency service. The assistant fire marshal agrees.

"We typically on any fire scene will respond with four engines, two ladder trucks, an ambulance, two batallion chiefs," Drury said. "So any one given fire takes a lot of our resources at the fire department."

All resources that cost taxpayers money.

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