Vacant House Fires in Berwick Causing Concern

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BERWICK -- Not much is left of a home along Vine Street in Berwick, after firefighters said flames broke out over the weekend. It's the second one on this street in less than one week.

"It was very scary, it was really, really traumatic.  My stomach is still doing flip-flops, scared me to death," said neighbor Mary Hanko.

Hanko lives right between the two vacant homes that caught fire. She wasn't home when the second fire started, but is thankful to only have a few cracked windows.

Melinda Green lives just down the road, and says she believes someone's starting these intentionally.

"Obviously somebody has to be setting them, so we`re worried that maybe they`ll start going after occupied houses," said Green.

Newswatch 16 was there as investigators and K-9 units worked to determine the cause of both Vine Street fires. Fire Chief Bill Coolbaugh says this isn't meth lab related, but it's one of the worst he's seen in a while.

"In the last my nine years as fire chief, this was probably one that tops, up there to the top as far as actual fire load when we get on scene," said Chief Coolbaugh.

After this second fire on Vine Street in less than a week, neighbors say they're nervous and they`re taking precautions to make sure their homes aren't next.

"Today we`re working on a fire escape plan with the kids and we have a fireman coming over later today to do the escape route and stuff like that," said Green.

Investigators are watching the other condemned homes in the neighborhood, while many residents on Vine Street hope there's no more commotion in their community for a while.

"I hope we don't have no more on this road, we had enough.  We had enough excitement here the last week to last us a lifetime.  I did anyway," said Hanko.

Fire Officials say if you see anything suspicious around vacant homes in your neighborhood to not hesitate to call Berwick Police. You can also call the non-emergency number in Columbia County at 570-784-6300.