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Why We Search: Occupied Vacants in Chicago, Tucson and Vegas

Proving once again that vacant and abandoned are just words


Chicago, 8 June 2014

One person is dead and another in critical condition after being rescued from a fire in the 900 block of North Lawndale. Firefighters found a burned man during the primary search and were told about a female also inside. She was found deceased on the second floor. Neighbors reported that the home had been vacant for years and that the two victims were squatters. An alderman told the CBS reporter that his office had contacted the police and building department after receiving neighborhood complaints since 2009.

Click onto the image to see the CBS Chicago video story.


Tucson, 12 June 2014

Tucson firefighters responded to an early morning fire on East Pima Street. Initially reported to be a vacant structure, due to boarded up windows, firefighters met a woman who had just escaped. Police officers on the scene had assisted her in removing the family dog. It was later determined that three people were living in the structure. The Tucson Sentinel reported that is was the word of passers-by that had described the structure as vacant.


Photo courtesy of Tucson Fire Department and Tucson News Now.

Las Vegas, 12 June 2014

Video below (courtesy of pio1lv) is from the scene at 1701 East St. Louis Avenue in as Las Vegas and Clark County companies battle a fire in a vacant two-story structure. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported that neighbors told firefighters the structure had been abandoned for three years and was a "haven for homeless people."

You can read more accounts such as these as well as news of departments and communities dealing with vacant and abandoned structures on Why We Search.



Bill Carey is the online public safety news and blog manager with PennWell Public Safety, or more specifically FireRescue Magazine/,, and Bill started in the fire service, as a third generation firefighter in 1986, on the eastern shore of Maryland and then continued after moving to Prince George’s County. He served as a volunteer sergeant and lieutenant at Hyattsville. Bill’s writing has been on, Fire Engineering, FireRescue Magazine,, the Jones and Bartlett 2010 edition of “Fire Officer: Principles and Practice”, The Secret List and His recent writing on firefighter behavioral health has been nominated for 2014 Neal Award for Best Subject-Related Series.

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