Milwaukee vacant house fires; addressing recent issue

It's no secret the City of Milwaukee has a back-log of vacant, abandoned buildings.

But some say the vacant homes are more than just an eyesore. They say they are life-threatening.

Two different fires on the opposite side of the city, with one thing in common: Firefighters said they started in vacant homes.

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The first fire was in April, near 8th and Hayes. The fire spread from an abandoned home, and a woman who lived next door died.

The second was on Tuesday, May 21, near 1st and Concordia. Investigators say it was arson. 

That fire displaced the family next door, who told FOX6 News they’re frustrated the blighted property wasn’t torn down in the first place.

But it’s not the only vacant home in the neighborhood.

"It’s at least I’d say about 20," said Tamisha Robertson, who used to own the blighted property, until 2022, when it was foreclosed. "People are losing their lives for senseless fires. The recent fire, someone broke in and was squatting inside."

Now Robertson lives down the street, next to a city-owned home, and another vacant lot, where a once-vacant home stood. 

"It’s been vacant and it caught on fire several times," she said.

Robertson said the abandoned homes are more than an ugly site; it's a safety concern.


Milwaukee Raze & Revive initiative; 1st property demolished in 2024

Abandoned homes in Milwaukee's neighborhoods will soon be a thing of the past. The city is getting down to business to turn eyesores into opportunity.

"People are breaking in the houses, stealing, squatting," she said.

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In response to recent fires, Alderwoman Milele Coggs said the property is now a priority demolition. She said the program Raze and Revive is designed to address the problem, by taking down unrepairable, city-owned homes.

So far, crews have demolished 26 properties, with the hopes of demolishing 90 this year.

"We strive to continue these efforts, eliminating unrepairable houses and clearing the way for the possibilities of the future," Coggs said in a press release.