An investigation is underway to find who set fire to three vacant houses in Central Lubbock. All fires were set within the past week. Investigators don't know who set the fires at this point and they can't make any speculations. Some sources suspect homeless people may be setting the fires. And local homeless experts do tell us that sometimes homeless people will set fires in abandoned properties trying to stay warm when looking for shelter.
And with the freezing temperatures we've seen, experts tell us the number of those seeking shelter is rising.
"I would rather them come in here because I know if they try to go into an abandoned building they try to start a fire and usually what happens is somehow the building catches on fire," said Major Ernest Branscum with the Salvation Army.
Branscum says in his experience of sheltering the homeless, when temperatures drop, he says the homeless sometimes set a small fire in a vacant property for warmth. Those fires can get out of control and the homeless person flees the scene.
"For some reason people are getting inside of other peoples properties and whether they're vacant or not doesn't really matter. It's illegal to be inside those properties," said Deputy Fire Marshall Garett Nelson.
Nelson says at this time, he can't link the fires directly to the homeless but does say the fires were set intentionally. And if it was someone trying to keep warm, experts say they've seen an increase in Lubbock's homeless population in the past year.
"We have a waiting list of about 25 to 30 families and these are just the families that would give us names and let us take the information," said Lisa Karnes with Family Promise.
"We definitely have a homeless problem in Lubbock," added Major Branscum.
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