Fires at 2 vacant homes on Indy's southeast side have neighbors concerned

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Some residents on the southeast side of Indianapolis say they’re nervous after fire destroyed one vacant house and damaged another next door.

The initial fire was reported around 1:30 a.m. Monday in the 1500 block of Asbury Street. Indianapolis Fire Department officials at the scene said the fire started at one house before spreading to the house next door. Both houses were listed as vacant.

Firefighters worked through bitter-cold temperatures and got the flames under control with no reports of injury.

Hours after the fire, neighbors said the vacant homes were rarely empty.

Antwon Lee, who lives next door to one of the houses, said he called IMPD about a year ago after seeing several people coming and going from one of the homes. He said the activity made him concerned for the safety of his children.

“Some people get warm, some people probably in there trying to do some drugs,” Lee said. “Just depends on the person, I guess.”

David Anderson, who lives behind the houses, says he’s witnessed drug activity surrounding the homes. In one case, he claimed to see a young man inject himself in the arm on the front porch of one of the houses. He says such activity has made him nervous in the last year since moving to the neighborhood.

“I got kids in the house, and we found needles laying in the yard, in the alleys here,” Anderson said. “It’s never ending.”

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department records show officers made a trespassing arrest at one of the two houses in April of last year. Another arrest in June of 2018 involved a man with an outstanding warrant who was found at the house.

“I’ve seen cops chase them out of there, chase them down the road and arrest them,” Anderson said. “And they just keep going back.”

Police records also show two fire investigations within a week at one of the homes in 2015. Both reports list the house as vacant.

Authorities regularly ask residents to report suspicious activity at vacant houses in order to prevent crime and lessen the chance for fires.

IFD officials have not announced the cause of Monday morning’s blaze.

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