Crews battled 2 suspicious vacant house fires in east Toledo

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Firefighters battled two vacant house fires early Monday in east Toledo. The first happened just around 12:30 a.m. in the 800 block of Utah Street.

"I was standing by the kitchen and all I heard was a big boom," said neighbor Monique Miller, who lived next door to the fire.

Miller said seconds later flames were shooting out of the vacant house, so she and her sister started waking up everyone.

"They come running upstairs saying, 'Mom mom, the next door neighbor's is on fire. Get up and get out!' And that's what I did. I grabbed my baby and my grandbaby and I ran out the house," said Tracie Miller.

The one side of their home was charred.

The second happened just a few blocks away around 2:30 a.m. in the 600 block of Oak Street. That house was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. They battled it defensively, meaning crews could not enter the house and only fought it from the outside.

City crews came in with equipment and knocked both of the houses down, but neighbors are still concerned because there are other vacant homes nearby.

"We heard a couple big booms and that was about it, and then next thing you know the house is on fire," said Cory Lorton, who was evacuated from his apartment.

Smoke filled the apartments so firefighters evacuated the tenants as a precaution.

"It's crazy. I was sleeping and got woken up and [they] said there was a fire and really everyone was really scared and everybody panicked and it's just ridiculous people are out here burning houses down," said Lorton.

The fire on Oak is a total loss. It has been vacant for about three months and has had extensive remodeling done to it.

Firefighters said both fires are suspicious, but they are not sure if they are connected.

Residents in the neighborhood want one thing.

"Just get rid of them. Get rid of all the vacant homes. Do something," said Hillard Miller.

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