Hours After Vacant House Fires Reported, Another Home Goes up in Flames

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Hours after FOX 4's John Pepitone reported on a rash of vacant house fires in Kansas City, Mo., another one caught fire.

The latest blaze erupted overnight in the 2100 block of East 38th Terrace, which spread to another vacant home. Now, a total of nine fires have occurred in the Oak Park Neighborhood. Seven of those fires were deliberately set. Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the most recent fires in the 2100 block of East 38th Terrace.

On Sunday, neighborhood resident Marcus Lewis said he woke around 3 a.m. to see flames shooting through the roof of the building next door. He said that with colder temperatures, homeless people may have started a fire inside to stay warm.

"I don't know if the city should go into knocking down these older buildings," he said. "I don't know if they should help the homeless. Maybe a little of both would help."

A few blocks away, near 40th and South Benton, a neighbor saw two people go inside the building shortly before it too burst into flames -- the third such fire since the beginning of September.

"We caught two kids in my mom's house the other day, which was vacant," said Pat Clarke. "When we got here the kids ran out the back door. We caught them. But when I walked through the house, the back room was set on fire."

Whether the cause of the fires are homeless people trying to stay warm or teens starting fires for kicks, neighborhood leaders said there are too many empty buildings and not enough eyes watching over them.

"More natural observation and people getting involved, not just sitting back watching what's happening," said State Rep. Brandon Ellington. "I think that would change the dynamics of what's going on."

Investigators haven't released the cause or damage estimates of the latest vacant house fires.

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