Sanford releases list of vacant homes in hopes of preventing arson fires

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SANFORD, Fla. - Suspicious fires have ripped through eight vacant Sanford homes and one historic school house over the past few weeks.
 

On Monday Channel 9's Karla Ray got a list of vacant homes the city is now monitoring.
 
Many of the homes are on the same street, two sit next to a home that police said was torched by an arsonist.
 
Police believe that vacant homes in that area are likely to be targets of the suspected arsonist.
 
That is disturbing news for investor Scott Lawlor.
 
"We've got rental houses up and down the street, especially on Palmetto (Avenue)," said Lawlor.
 
Sanford city officials released a list of 57 vacant homes in the historic district downtown area.
 
There are 10 on both Palmetto and Park avenues, eight on Myrtle Avenue and seven on both Oak and Magnolia avenues.
 
"I think the longer they sit -- you've got the woods all around -- it it's not a good thing. You need to get them moved out more quickly," said Lawlor.
 
It's easy to spot the homes that are empty. Most have signs saying the homes are for sale or rent. One is even boarded up.
 
"The big thing now is that we have the opportunity to address them a little more effectively," said Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith.
 
Smith said his investigators are meeting with state fire agents on an almost-daily basis. He said he hopes the just-released list of vacant homes will help neighbors be aware of exactly where to watch, while his officers do the same.
 
"We've increased our patrols, we've reorganized our calls for service areas and we've directed our officers to be more attentive to those areas where the vacant properties are," said Smith.