Fire At 'Problematic' Vacant Home Ruled Arson


UPDATED: Tuesday March 26, 2013 6:23 PM

A fire on Tuesday at a vacant home on the southeast side of Columbus was ruled arson.

The blaze started around 12:30 p.m. near where Kinderly Drive becomes Kenaston Drive on the southeast side of the city.

Neighbors told 10TV that the house had been vacant for years, and many people in the neighborhood felt it was dangerous.

“I looked out here and saw the smoke and said, well, I wondered how long that was going to be until that happened cause it's been vacant for years. First thing I thought of is, it's got to be arson,” said Clarence Billheimer.

Investigators agreed, saying the fire was started.

Billheimer said that flames were shooting out of the house.

“They were coming out of the roof when I looked outside, so it was pretty far along by the time they got started on it,” he added.

Billheimer was worried the flames may spread to his neighbors’ homes.

Investigators and neighbors said the fire was not the first at the vacant house. There was another arson investigated at the address in 2007.

“I've filed reports with that Columbus website several times about all that trash in the yard,” added Billheimer.

An administrator with the Columbus Division of Code Enforcement, told 10TV that the department is aware of the house.

In fact, a spokesman said that as part of the mayor's plan to knock down hundreds of blighted homes, they got the city's approval to tear down the house within the next few months.

Now, he says he believes the fire has only sped up the process.

The floor of the house was so unstable that a firefighter partially fell through it. He was not hurt.

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