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Vacant Buildings & Squatters
Is There a Squatter in Your Neighborhood?
Signs to Watch For:
- Someone moved into a vacant home and you saw no moving trucks (many vacant homes are bank-owned and not regularly monitored).
- You see numerous jugs/buckets of water coming into the home (squatters rarely have running water).
- The home still has the “For Sale” or “For Rent” sign posted, or you see the new resident taking it down (signs are usually removed by the owner or realty company)
- You see candlelight or small fires inside the home or in the backyard (many squatters have no utilities, including heat or electricity)
- Trash is piling up in the yard and around the house (squatters commonly do not have trash service)
What YOU Can Do:
- Identify the vacant house(s) on your street.
- Write down the contact information for the owner/realtor when the “For Sale” or “For Rent” sign is posted.
- Call the owner/realtor if you see anyone move into the house - to confirm they are supposed to be there.
- Notify neighbors about the vacant house and share the owner/realtor contact information.
- If you see any trespassers or burglars, call the Police Department.
- Provide owner/realtor contact information to any Deputies that respond. (Signs are often removed by squatters and responding deputies do not always know the legal owner or property manager).
- If you suspect someone is squatting in your neighborhood and have seen past activity, please report it to Code Enforcement (719) 553-2592.
- If you know squatters are in a home right now, Call (719) 553-2502
ATTENTION: Please fill out THIS FORM so we may contact the homeowner.
Data on the number of vacant fires and the damage/injuries associated:
Fires in Vacant Building, 2/18 1 NFPA, Research, Quincy, MA
Fires in Vacant Buildings Overview
In 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 30,200 structure fires per year in vacant properties. These fires resulted in an average of 60 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries, and $710 million in direct property damage per year. Many properties are vacant during changes of ownership/occupant and are not abandoned. Fires in vacant buildings are more likely to have been intentionally set and to spread beyond the building than are fires in other structures. They also cause a disproportionate share of firefighter injuries.
Six percent of reported structure fires in 2011-2015 were in vacant properties. Only 2% of civilian structure fire deaths and 1% of civilian structure fire injuries resulted from fires in vacant properties.
During the same period, an estimated average of 3,310 firefighters per year were injured at vacant building fires. 13% of firefighter injuries at structure fires occurred in or at vacant buildings.
Percent of structure fires and firefighter fireground injuries in or at vacant buildings: 2011-2015
During the ten-year period of 2007-2016, a total of 20 firefighters were fatally injured in 17 fires in vacant buildings or buildings under demolition or renovation. None of these occurred in 2016.
In 2011-2015, 43% of vacant building structure fires were in properties that were secured.
In the remaining 57% of these fires, the property was unsecured.
Vacant building fires reached a high point in 2007 and 2008 and have declined since 2012.
Structure fires in vacant properties steadily increased from 29,300 in 2003 to a high of 34,100 in 2008. Estimates fluctuated for the next three years. Consecutive declines were seen in 2013-2015, with the 27,900 in 2015 the lowest point since 2003.
Half (50%) percent of vacant building fires were intentionally set compared to 10% of all structure fires. Vacant structures accounted for 30% of intentionally set structure fires.
- In unsecured vacant properties, three-fifths (61%) of the fires were intentional.
- One-third (35%) of the fires in secured properties were intentional.
Intentional Vacant Building Fires by Structure Status: 2011-2015
The fire spread beyond the structure in 9% of the fires in secured and 12% of fires in unsecured vacant properties, compared to only 4% of overall structure fires. Larger percentages of fires in vacant buildings spread to nearby structures compared to all structure fires.
Note: Estimates of fires and firefighter injuries were derived from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System and NFPA’s annual fire department experience survey. Unknowns were allocated proportionally. In this analysis, the terms “building” and “structure” are used interchangeably.