James Lay has lived on Atwater Street for more than 40 years.
“It was nice. They had houses all around and everything,” Lay said. “But most all of them are gone now.”
Back then, the neighborhood was a whole lot different than what it has become: vacant lots, and piles of smoldering rubble.
“It's sad what's going on down the road, but like I said is it arson or what, you know?” Lay said.
Fire Marshal Ralph Martin remembers this street that way, too. More homes, less blight and no fear.
“This was once a very nice, vibrant neighborhood, and I remember when it was,” Martin said. “It's really sad to see things go as they are.”
Lay is coping with it as best he can.
“Mostly going day by day with it… I don't think there's too much that I can do, if I saw something it would be different,” Lay said.
And that's who Martin is looking for, anyone with information.
“A lot of times I get phone calls from people who are tired of being awoken in the middle of the night, and being in danger by having fire near their home or property,” Martin said.
And since these homes were abandoned, Martin said it's near impossible that these fires were all an accident.
“We look for ways that anything could have accidentally caused this fire, once we eliminate all the accidental abilities, we find out it may have been intentionally started,” Martin said.
He said a red "x" means they were slated for demolition anyway, but that whoever is responsible, likely just didn't want to wait.
“It's really sad for the community and just making sure that people understand there are circumstances where people can get hurt when fires are intentionally set,” Martin said.
Copyright 2015 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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