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Firefighters Contend With Vacant Homes

Last week was a busy one for the Harrodsburg Fire Department with three fires in three days. Two of them were routine, but the one that concerns Harrodsburg Fire Chief Ric Maxfield most is the one that happened Thursday at 451 Cornishville Street.

Maxfield said the house, which is owned by Bennie Hume, caught fire because squatters burned some garbage and the blaze quickly spread to the grass, which Maxfield said was nearly six feet high.

When the firefighters showed up, they had no idea if the house was abandoned or not and had to brave smoke and flames and search every room.

“You don’t want to see your guys get hurt for nothing,” Maxfield said.

One firefighter was injured during the blaze, which sheds light on the continuing issue of deserted buildings in Mercer County.

Vacant buildings are a firefighter’s nightmare. Not only are they usually left unsecured and filled with combustible materials, the fire protection systems are usually shut off or inoperative. Add a squatter, some matches and cold weather, and it’s a recipe for a disaster.

What really bothers Maxfield was that he still had no idea if a squatter died in the fire, which is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal and the Harrodsburg Police Department, until nearly a week after the fire.

“We haven’t found anybody in the home yet,” he said. “But we don’t 100-percent know.”

To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.

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