Why neighbors are on edge about the arson of a vacant home

Local News
Tarred debris and a destroyed house is all that is left of a home in the 400 block of Howard Street in Baton rouge. 
 
Michael Stewart and Joesph Webb live nearby. They said it is not a normal scene to wake up to. 
 
“I heard an explosion that really made me pay attention to what was going on,” Webb said. “So, I rushed out, and that’s when I noticed this place here was on fire.” 
 
“We ain’t never had this kind of problem on our street, never. This house has been here for so long, I don’t understand who did that,” Stewart said. 
 
Thursday, Baton Rouge Firefighters were called to reports of a fire at the vacant home around 5:00 A.M. It took around 20 minutes to get under control. After further investigation, it was determined to be an arson. 
 
“Arson can happen for many different reasons. It is a crime. It can happen to cover up another criminal act. It can happen in domestic disputes. It can happen for insurance purposes. There’s just so many different factors,” said BRFD Public Information Officer Curt Monte. 
 
This isn’t the first vacant home to be set on fire, but it is the latest. Neighbors said this crime shines light on an even bigger issue facing their community. 
 
“I think the City needs to pay a little bit more attention. I don’t think the City, not the responders, the City itself, the administrators and all, they’re not paying attention to the surroundings. A lot needs to be done,” Webb explained. 
 
“They need to tear all these empty houses down, like they have all these empty houses, like right there, they’re all raggedy. They should tear those down,” Stewart said. “Why did they choose to come here? I mean, whoever burned this, they should have done something back there instead of coming right there. That’s stupid.” 
 
As for this crime, investigators are working to get down to the bottom of the arson. BRFD is confident justice will be served. 
 
“They’re well-trained, and if you commit the crime, they will come find you and they will put you in jail,” Monte said.  
 
According to the department, there have been 79 arsons through July of this year. In 2014, it investigated 155, where in the first six months, it saw 94.
 
If you know anything that might help detectives find the person who set that fire, give Crime Stoppers a call at (225) 344-STOP.

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