ASHLAND -- It was an alarming start to the new year in one neighborhood in Schuylkill County.
Early Wednesday, police were called to Walnut Street in Ashland, where a man was reported to be throwing household items out the front door. When they got there, they also found two small fires burning in the home.
Gary Blase spent New Year's Day cleaning up in front of his home in Ashland. He's thankful to still have it after how 2014 started.
"Real relieved, it would have been a bad New Year."
Police were called to the home a few doors up on Walnut Street, after neighbors reported the resident was heaving items out the front door. When officers arrived, they discovered a wall of smoke and called for help.
Fire officials say two small fires were burning, and the place was in shambles, the refrigerator knocked over, the oven filled with plastic bottles.
“The quick attack by our people saved this whole block from going down,” said Ashland Fire Chief Philip Groody.
“It would have been really bad, especially right here, New Year's Day for people,” said neighbor John Schachte.
While neighbors say they are glad the block didn't go up in flames, they are not surprised. They say this is not the first time they have been worried about the behavior of the man who lives there.
Gary Blase says his wife recently found the same man locked in her car.
“The child safety locks were on in the back. He couldn't get out,” Blase explained. “He just said ‘here is my address, if anything is missing, you know where I live.”
“I hope they put him away, for a long time, not just for a short time, for a long time,” said another neighbor.
Neighbors in Ashland say the man started causing problems about four months ago. They hope authorities will get him the help he needs.
A fire marshal will look for what sparked the flames.
There is no word on charges.