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Hamilton neighbors blame vagrants for spectacular warehouse fire

Posted at 7:09 PM, Jul 25, 2019

HAMILTON, Ohio — Neighbors weren’t sorry to see an abandoned warehouse burn to the ground Thursday morning.

“It was bad for the neighborhood,” said Theresa Johnson.

Barbara Brown blamed vagrants for starting the fire.

“It’s been awful. Homeless people coming in and out of it. I’ve called the police on it a couple times,” Brown said. “They’re in there grilling and cooking. And in the winter time they’re trying to stay warm.”

A 911 caller reported seeing two people running from the building on Laurel Avenue.

Even Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer called it “a problem building.”

“The blight you have with abandoned structures … “ Mercer said.

“It’s likely someone was in there that shouldn’t have been in there.”

"There’s rumors of a lot of homeless people in the area taking tents in and staying in. A lot of rumors of maybe some drugs activity,” said Harlee Senters.

"The doors aren’t always locked. So we chase off what we can see in front of us.”

The fire chief said it was yet unclear what caused the fire. He said the building was being used to store cardboard and plastic, but it was empty for the most part.

“The building was not well maintained or well taken care of,” Mercer said.

Almost as soon as the fire was out, officials with arson dogs were examining the scene and bulldozers were demolishing what was left so it wouldn’t collapse into the street.

“It’s so big, it’s burned down the entire structure. Or at least damaged the entire structure.” Mercer said.

The warehouse sat vacant for years but it was just sold Tuesday for $200,000, the Journal-News reported.