HOXIE, AR (KAIT) – Police in Hoxie continue to search for clues in a rash of recent fires. Last week, two homes and a three-unit apartment building went up in flames. All of the buildings were vacant at the time.
Tonight, investigators believe the fires are the work of an arsonist. Hoxie police and city officials say empty houses are full of trouble.
There are twenty to twenty-five empty and abandoned houses in Hoxie. In the past few weeks police say four houses have been set on fire! While fire is a big problem, it's just one of the concerns residents have.
"The big problem we've been having is a bunch of the abandoned houses that we've had in the area," said Hoxie Police Chief Glen Smith.
Every town has them.
"Just like this house, it has been abandoned for I don't know how long. We've got several other in the south end of the town. We've got them all over town," said Smith.
While some of the houses are empty there are other houses that are uninhabitable.
"You get stuff in there like rats and different things and people I know the neighbors don't like that," said Smith.
There are multiple houses the city is trying to condemn.
"It's really an eyesore," said Reba Vanhoozer.
Vanhoozer lives two houses down and says it's been this way for several years.
"We want to clean Hoxie up. I just there's other ways of doing it without people going out and setting these things," said Smith.
That's a big concern for residents.
"I think me and my neighbor would be worried about someone setting it on fire it getting on fire and endangering our homes," said Vanhoozer.
Many of the homes that have been burned were empty, some for long periods of time.
"We have had times where we go up to houses to check on them and there will be people staying in them," said Smith.
Smith said they've had problems with meth labs inside abandoned homes and other nuisances. He said they would like to have controlled burns to burn down some of the houses once they're condemned.
"Get it pushed in or have the city come down and push it in maybe one or two at a time. We could let the firemen, when they want to test hoses or something, put some water on them and kind of watch them," said Smith.
The city is checking on EPA and ADEQ standards to find out what they can do legally. Smith said he would like to take this before the city council.