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Another Abandoned Bellaire Home Goes up in Flames     9 December, 2010, 10:16 am
BELLAIRE, Ohio -- There was an orange glow in the sky in Bellaire before daybreak, along with heavy clouds of smoke.
The abandoned house at 43rd and Harrison streets was engulfed in a ball of flames.

Even utility poles were on fire.

And so were the houses behind and beside it.

"They woke me up at six o'clock in the morning," said Bob Jeffries, who lives next door. "My house was filling up with smoke. My wife and I were asleep. We just ran out with what we got on. Grabbed our dog and ran."

This fire makes approximately six abandoned houses that burned in Bellaire in the past three months.

The fire marshal has been called in again, but firefighters are cautious not to call it arson until the investigation is complete.

But the next-door neighbor, whose home is badly damaged, is saying it outright.

"Somebody has set it on fire," Jeffries said. "That's all there is to it. Somebody has set the place on fire. You know that was just a vacant home. No electric, no gas, no water, nothing on in it. And somebody has set it on fire."

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Wallace is asking for people in town to be the eyes and ears of the fire department.

"We need the help of the neighbors and the people around the community," Wallace said. "Keep an eye out for strange people going around houses, people who don't belong, coming to vacant structures and looking around. Check on anybody who doesn't normally come in that direction."

As for Jeffries, he said he's already chased many people out of the abandoned house on the corner.

Now there's nothing left of that house.

But he'd like to get his hands on an arsonist.

"I'd like to say, 'Come here,' " Jeffries said. "And I'd give him a match. And I'd show him what a fire is."

Authorities urge everyone to watch for any suspicious activity and report it immediately by calling 911

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