FLINT (WJRT) (10/31/2017) - Police and fire crews in Flint and Saginaw were staffed up and had volunteers to supplement patrols Monday night to ward off arson fires.
Both cities are declaring the efforts a success. Only one suspicious fire was reported in Flint while no fires were reported in Saginaw overnight.
A decade ago, both cities dealt with well over 100 fires on the night before Halloween.
Flint Fire Chief Ray Barton credits a number of factors for dramatically reducing the number of fires from that figure to only two in 2015, four in 2016 and one this year.
"Like I said, people riding around and people keeping their porch lights on and the community as a whole coming in and being involved and, of course, the weather had to have helped -- the cold wet weather last night," he said.
The lone fire in Flint happened in a vacant house on the south side surrounded by businesses and a church. Neighbors say the fire reported around 1 a.m. Tuesday was the third to hit the structure.
Tony Tucker owns Krystal Jo's Diner next to where that one fire broke out. He said the house has been a blight on the neighborhood along Fenton Road and probably is hurting his business.
"It's coming down and someone is going to get hurt," Tucker said. "Coming in here with their families and that's the first thing they see is an abandoned house burned up for the last five years and it's not helping matters much."
He does his best at keeping people out of the dilapidated and now burned out structure. Tucker said he would even help pay for demolishing it.
"I need some help down here," Tucker said.
Barton said community efforts to tear down abandoned houses like the one on Fenton Road have been reducing the number of suspicious fires.
"This time, the fire department got it out all the way," Tucker said. "They pulled off all the boards off the windows. They did a good job making sure it was done. But at the same time here we are, it's left wide open again."
The fire cause was labeled as suspicious as of Tuesday afternoon. Anyone with information on how it may have started is asked to call the Flint Police Department.