More buildings burn in Benton Park

In an area that has seen some of the biggest jumps in building permits in the city, these arsons are taking a toll on development.

A rash of arsons in a St. Louis neighborhood has residents on edge.

Saturday night, a vacant building on the 3300 block of Wisconsin ave in Benton Park caught fire. It's just one of almost two dozen residents say have gone up in flames over the past six months.

NewsChannel5 has been tracking the suspicious fires over the past several months. All of them appear to have been set in vacant buildings, in and around the Benton park neighborhood.

In an area that has seen some of the biggest jumps in building permits in the city, these arsons are taking a toll on development.

"It's a huge discouragement. I know several developers have been reaching out to me afraid of their investment," said Cara Spencer, Alderwoman, 20th ward.

Those who live in the area say one way to stop the fires is to secure the buildings most vulnerable to arson.

You don't have to look far to find vacant homes in the Benton Park area. Alderwoman Spencer tells me there's more than 100 in a 1-2 mile radius.

"I actually turned this into the city several months ago because i saw it wasn't secured," said

Kameron Murphy, who lives across the street from the latest fire site.

"We need to absolutely make sure we are boarding up withint 24 hours and that we have the money and the crews to do it," said Spencer.

More burned buildings means small developers may think twice before taking a chance on Benton Park.

"The vast majority of insurance companies are just refusing to insure vacant buildings," said Spencer.

No one was hurt in Saturday night's fire.

It's unclear if all the fires are linked.

We're still waiting to hear back from the fire department on its investigation.


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