JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – Concerns surrounding the rising homeless population in Jamestown continue, with investigators suspecting an early morning factory fire was started by homeless or vagrants seeking shelter from the elements.
Around 7 a.m. Thursday the Jamestown Fire Department responded to the old Crawford Furniture Atlas Division Factor at 52 Winsor Street.
The former warehouse was closed and partially demolished in 2015 following a roof collapse.
When crews arrived on scene, they discovered a small section of the first floor of the building completely engulfed in flames, possibly started by a campfire or bonfire.
“It’s just a pretty dangerous building, so we were very careful to make entry,” explained Battalion Chief Brian Achterberg. “It was a smaller fire, about a 10 by 10 foot section of the flooring was on fire.”
It took crews about two hours to contain the flames.
While the fire is still under investigation, preliminarily it looks like the blaze was started by an unauthorized occupant of the abandoned building.
In the past few months, we’ve seen an increase in homeless gathering under bridges and places like the railroad viaduct on Main Street Downtown. While police ask them to disperse, officials say the solution is not as simple as just moving people out.
Currently the city is working with the county’s homelessness coalition to help support the homeless population locally. There are also plans in the works to build two new shelters downtown, which could help provide temporary housing for those in need.