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Parkersburg sees drop in vacant home fires

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 9:20 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Although the number of vacant home fires has grown over the past few years, 2020 saw a sharp increase, a trend that has reversed in 2021.

Out of the 11 structure fires the Parkersburg Fire Department has seen this year, only two have been at vacant homes, according to Fire Chief Jason Matthews. This may be a big drop from last year but it’s actually back to the usual, when comparing this time of year to the last few years.

2020 saw vacant home fire numbers triple what was considered typical over the past few years. Matthews said the sudden switch back to normal in 2021 caught him by surprise.

Despite the positive shift in vacant home fires, there has been a notable negative shift in accidental fires in occupied buildings. Last year, there were 20. This year, there have already been nine.

Matthews said, “We’ve seen combustibles to close to heat sources as a cause, we’ve seen smoking as a cause, you know electrical issues with different types of equipment...,”

There was no clear pattern in cause.

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