Homeless may be to blame for Moss Point blaze

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Moss Point firefighters are investigating a house fire they believe was started by homeless people trying to keep warm. The fire happened Monday night on West Pine Street.  Investigators say it's a problem that becomes more common during extreme cold.

"It is shame someone would break in your house," Dell Jones said as she walked near the burned home on West Pine Street.

Jones said it's difficult to look at her family's home now charred and destroyed.  She said her cousin moved out the place because it needed a lot of work.

"He closed it up and put no trespassing signs on it," Jones said.

Monday night, the unthinkable happened on Jones' street.  Jones got a knock on her door and the news that flames were racing out of the home.  She said she ran outside and saw a group of people coming out.

"They broke in it, and I guess they had been staying up in there," Jones said.

The fire was so intense that the radiant heat from the house ruined the siding on a neighboring home. And unfortunately, the resident doesn't have insurance to pay for the damages.

"We lost and the neighbors lost."

Moss Point firefighters spent the next day sifting through some of the rubble.  Inspector Robert Lavinghouse said his investigation points to homeless people seeking shelter from the cold weather.

"They probably fell asleep, left the candle on in the bathroom and burned the place up," Lavinghouse said.

He said, when temperatures drop the homeless always tend to look for any vacant places to heat up and lay their heads.

"This may not be an isolated incident in Moss Point," Lavinghouse said about the fire. "People have to get out of the cold weather."

He said owners should board up vacant properties and ask neighbors to be a watch out to prevent these problems.

"If they see anything suspicious around the house to call the police department and the police department can come down here and arrest them for trespassing."

Police have made no arrest in this case.  If you have any information about the fire please call the Moss Point Police at (228) 475-1711.

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