SHARON, Pa. (WYTV) – Sharon Police and firef investigators are calling a string of arsons in the city “out of control.”
Over the past two years, the total number of fires in the city is estimated to be near 30. So far in 2017, there have been 19, 16 of those are being investigated as arson – though the majority of homes were vacant.
Neighbor Lisa Hall said the situation is becoming more dangerous for the community and for firefighters.
“The one firefighter fell through the floor while they were fighting it. It is super dangerous for us and it is dangerous for them,” Hall said.
Hall’s family has lived on the West Hill in Sharon for more than 50 years. Back in February, the empty house next door was targeted, and then it was hit several more times.
“People have children around here walking around. What if these houses just fall down while your child is walking past,” Hall said.
That home was one of many that police believe was targeted by arsonists this year. Chief Gerry Smith said it has gotten to the point where resources are being depleted to battle them.
“It’s has taken up so many resources just to contain the actual incident let alone the investigation. I am at the point that the investigation part is what I need help with,” Smith said.
Pennsylvania State Police are now working to find the people responsible using advanced tools and evidence laboratories.
Fire Chief Bob Fiscus said it has been taxing on the city’s budget, too. He said part of it is paying the fire and police staff overtime.
Fiscus said he is working with the community development budget to try to tear down some of the damaged homes.
“Part of our driving factor is the blight and the vacant houses. There are no easy answers and no answers that exactly fit in our budget,” Fiscus said. “We are thinking out of the box, and we are collaborating, looking together to come up with a solution.”
Fiscus says they tore down 12 houses that had burned, which set back their budget.
Pennsylvania State Police is getting a reward together with Crime Stoppers for anyone in the public who has information.