Local group works to stop string of vacant property fires - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |


Local group works to stop string of vacant property fires


Waco residents are banding together to help stop a string of vacant house fires. The Vacant Properties Taskforce met Saturday morning to brainstorm ways to help the city combat the problem.

The taskforce was formed earlier this year and is made up of neighborhood association presidents and concerned citizens who live in the area.

There have been 24 fires at vacant properties in north Waco in the past year and a half. Waco fire marshal and police believe some of them may be the work of a serial arsonist, but so far they have no suspects.

More than 20 people met up Saturday at the Hope Fellowship Meeting House to talk about their experiences living next to deserted properties.

Taskforce Co-Founder, Alexis Christensen says the take-away from the meeting is to focus on halting the fires by collecting data.    

"This is something that is harming our community. We really need to figure out the number of vacant lots in the area, we need to figure out where the burned lots are and also where the vacant structures are," said Christensen.

At the meeting, they broke into groups to spotlight aspects they feel need improvement including community engagement, code enforcement and receivership of abandoned properties.

The taskforce is working with several city departments including the City Attorney's Office, Planning and Zoning Services and Housing and Development and Waco community development to find new solutions to the growing vacant home problem.

"They really wanted to work with us," says Christensen. "I felt like they had an openness for us to share ideas which was really but at the same time though it felt like they were also having conversations about this maybe for the first time altogether. "

Though members had many different ideas, one thing they agreed on is no one wants to live next to an empty house or burned down debris.

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