Business owners next to an empty house that has caught fire multiple times this year say they’re worried about their own properties going up in flames.
A fire started at an empty house at 606 18th St. Sunday afternoon. It was the fourth time firefighters responded to the location in 2021.
The property, which has its windows boarded up and scorch marks visible on the outside walls, previously went up in flames on Jan. 23, April 20, May 13 and over the weekend.
That’s a concern for Adam’s Body Art owner Adam Lyttle, who is in the building right next door.
"It’s always a bit of a worry. I find out when it’s on fire, someone will let me know and someone will be watching … So I rush over, worried something is going to happen to the business," he said.
Lyttle said he is unsure why or how the building keeps catching fire, but he said people hang around the vacant house. He has also had to clean spray paint off the front of the tattoo studio.
"It’s not really the best situation to be next to," he said
While the property keeps catching fire, Lyttle said he’s thankful for quick responses from Brandon Fire and Emergency Services to extinguish the flames.
"The second or third time, we were in here working, some kids came by on bikes and they (came) up to the door, and I thought they were trying to come in," he said.
"They say ‘no, no, it’s on fire next door.’ I look over and sure enough, there’s flames coming out and I’m like ‘oh crap, we better call the fire department.’ And before I had a chance to call, they were already here. I’m really thankful they’re watching fast enough to get here."
The persistent fires are also a concern for Anthony Veysey, owner of Alpha Omega Rock and Lapidary. The business is in a building directly behind Adam’s Body Art.
"It’s a little stressful," he said, adding he is also concerned about the flames spreading to his business.
"If it caught, yeah there’s insurance, but insurance doesn’t really cover everything that you’ve done."
Veysey has also had to deal with graffiti on the building, and someone threw a rock through the window last week. He said he would like to see something done to properly secure the building — either fence it up or have it demolished.
Brandon Fire and Emergency Services deputy Chief Terry Parlow said the cause of the Sunday fire at the house is undetermined.
"Basically, what we’ve identified is it is a vacant building and there are times that it’s suspicious in nature, but there’s been no actual cause of the actual fire — but they are suspicious in nature," he said.
Parlow said BFES is working with the owner of the building and the City of Brandon to "address" the situation going forward.
"We are aware of the issues that are taking place with that property and the amount of times it has happened, which is very concerning to us," he said.
Brandon Police Service Sgt. Adam Potter didn’t have any additional details when reached Tuesday afternoon but said police believe people experiencing homelessness stay in the building at times.
The Jan. 23 fire was started after someone set a mattress on fire, Brandon police said at the time. Subsequent fires have been difficult to investigate because of damage inside from previous ones.
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