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police & fire

Poughkeepsie Officials to Meet After Rise In Fires

Firefighters have responded to a fire at a vacant home located at 44 Harrison St. twice within the past two weeks.
Firefighters have responded to a fire at a vacant home located at 44 Harrison St. twice within the past two weeks. Photo Credit: City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Following two fires at vacant houses Saturday in the City of Poughkeepsie, city officials will hold a common council meeting on Feb. 13 to discuss the current situation around suspicious fires within the city, according to Chairwoman Natasha Cherry.

The first blaze took place around 10:20 p.m. at 44 Harrison St. This was the second time firefighters have returned to the vacant home to battle a blaze. They were at the house on Saturday, Jan. 14, said Chief Mark Johnson.

"I can't comment about who may have started the fires, the police department is investigating," Johnson said.

No one was injured in the fire, and firefighters were able to douse the flames quickly he added.

The second fire was reported just minutes later at 10:35 p.m. about three blocks away, at another vacant house at 97 Smith St. Again, firefighters were able to put out the fire within 30 minutes before extensive damage occurred, he said.

City of Poughkeepsie Det. Lt. Matt Clark said the city is investigating the three (two at Harrison) fires and could not speculate whether they were caused by homeless residents at this time.

He said the department is asking the public for help in solving the fires.

"We are asking residents to report if they have seen anything suspicious, or individuals in the area before the fires," Clark said.

Cherry said the meeting will look at fires in occupied, vacant, and abandoned properties and that staff are currently preparing statistics to review all fires within the past two years, fires in vacant structures, and the number of vacant properties within the city.

"The police department is exploring all possibilities and continue to investigate the unsolved cases," Cherry said. "Suspicious fires are very difficult to investigate. The public can assist when they see people hanging around a vacant property."

Anyone with information is asked to call 845-451-7577 or the Anonymous Tip line 451-7177.

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