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Report shows Augusta ranks third in nation for house fires

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 6:23 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A suspect still on the run, accused of setting two homes on the same street on fire just last week.

The fires broke out at two abandoned houses last Monday on Telfair Street, and authorities have not released a name or a specific description of the suspect.

Arson investigators say four homes total on Telfair Street were damaged in the fires.

But they also say they’re seeing more cases of abandoned house fires and arson cases, especially in the downtown area.

So, they’re trying to figure out a couple of things: why they are seeing such an uptick and what they can do to stop it.

“It has been four hard, long-struggling months of being homeless,” said Trinee Dixon.

You may remember her from a few months ago. Her house caught on fire after homeless people in the abandoned house next door started a fire to keep warm and lost control of it.

Now four months later, she was just able to get a home for her and her eight children.

“Life has been so hard since the fire,” she said. “Being four months in of being homeless and now being able to get myself a home. ... It’s sad.”

According to a new study by Hartford Insurance, Augusta ranks third in the nation for fire risk and home fires.

“Home fire risk in Augusta is a concern and it’s something that we as a department try to educate the public as much as possible to take steps to better reduce their fire risk,” Public Information Officer Jason DeHart with Augusta Fire said.

The study logged fire calls and damage claims but doesn’t always mean there was actually a fire.

“Areas that have more abandoned homes than not typically do see more of a fire risk,” DeHart said.

That area is exactly where Dixon’s house was, where there are a lot of older homes and a higher homeless population.

“They go inside an abandoned home and start a fire that gets out of control and then there’s a fully engulfed structure fire,” DeHart said.

The fire department says they just want to help educate people on the risk factors with home fires.

But for Dixon, who visits her home every week, the worst part is: “Coming here and being reminded of what had happened.”

The Augusta Fire Department says it typically sees around 23 to 25 structure fire calls per month. That number is already up to about 27 a month for 2021, even though we are only in the first two months of the year.

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