ROANOKE, Va. - Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a massive fire that damaged five homes in the 500 block of Bullitt Avenue Southeast in Roanoke Sunday afternoon.
No one was living in the home that was completely destroyed, or three others that were damaged, but the owner of one of the damaged homes says that vacancy is likely what caused the problem.
"The fire went all the way through that one, so that's a loss. I'm not sure how much damage it's going to be in our internal walls for us," said Jeff Ford, who owns one of homes damaged in the fire.
He was renovating the house in hopes that someone would want to move in, but he says there's a bigger problem hurting homeowners in Southeast.
"I've lived here and this is my home, and I can't live here safely without wondering if somebody's going to show up," Ford said.
Ford said homeless people leaving the nearby rescue mission frequently break into homes in the area. He saw someone had broken into the house where the fire started just weeks ago.
"It’s shocking. It's kind of like the crown of having transient folks just do whatever they want to your property if you're not here," Ford said.
Ford said it's going to take everyone to clean up the neighborhood and keep devastation like this from happening again.
"There's not a good community solution that I’ve seen in the time that I’ve owned this property, where there's something planned and scheduled by the city and the rescue mission and other people involved to manage the transient population here. And so what you have is that they terrorize the neighborhood. They own the neighborhood," Ford said.
This is the second fire at this home in about 18 months.
The amount of damage and cause of the fire are still unclear.
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