FLINT (WJRT) (5/14/2018) - The Flint Fire Department is calling an early morning fire at a vacant elementary school Monday a case of arson.
Fire authorities say someone lit one or more bags of garbage on fire and threw it on the roof of Washington Elementary School's gymnasium.
Neighbors were concerned about the school becoming a breeding ground for criminal activity when it closed in 2013. Their fears became reality early Monday morning.
Flames left the north side of the vacant building with heavy damage.
Washington Elementary closed in 2013 while Flint Community Schools was trying to erase an $11 million budget deficit. Neighbors raised concerns at the time about the building becoming a haven for criminals.
Fast forward five years. Neighbors say they're living in fear because they don't know what will happen next.
"It's scary. It's scary. We got all these kids. I think they sleep all day and they're up all night doing things they shouldn't be doing," said Duane, who lives near the school and didn't want to give his last name.
Neighbors say the darkness in the area provides good cover for criminal activity overnight.
"I come home at night and I have little devices that I wear cause it's almost pitch black in this particular block right here," said neighbor Nancy Cowens.