Firefighters called twice to smoking building

Smoke comes out of a roof of an empty building on West Grant at Elm streets after New Castle firefighters doused a small blaze inside around 10 a.m. Wednesday. 

The New Castle Fire Department was called twice in three days to a vacant building on West Grant at Elm streets that had smoke seeping through the roof.

Firefighters had doused a small blaze inside the building around 10 a.m. Wednesday. Fire chief Mike Kobbe said a homeless man who was squatting inside the building had built a fire in a corner of it to keep warm and the fire got out of control. The fire department put out the flames within minutes and the New Castle police were addressing the man's situation, he said. 

The fire department was summoned to the building again at 8 p.m. Saturday, where the man staying inside had built another fire that filled the building with smoke that was reported by a passer-by, Kobbe said.

He said the yellow brick building, which sits on a hillside, is owned by Lawrence County and is in its repository for the nonpayment of taxes. Kobbe said he intends to contact the county commissioners to request that they secure the premises and try to find help for the man who has been living in there.

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