Property owners at risk due to squatter fires


Fire officials say it was so bad they have not been able to determine a cause, but they say three people were arrested.

If you see a vacant building occupied by someone who shouldn't be there, report it.

When this abandoned building near 6th and Bridger Avenue caught on fire, Squatters rushed out.

"It's not unusual for us to return to some building 4 or 5... 6 times in a row because they just keep having fires. This time, two were arrested for trespassing, another person had an arrest warrant," according to Tim Symanski of Las Vegas Fire and Rescue.

"They really have a good thing going and they are living there rent free and they don't want to mess that up. So they don't intentionally set the building on fire," explains Symanski.

Fire officials say when squatters aren't reported it can lead to costly issues for property owners.

This homeowner couldn't get her vacant home insured.

"No, we don't. She tried to get homeowners insurance. They told her it's empty, we can't ensure it," says the interviewee.

With damage costing 10's of thousands of dollars, now some property owners allow squatting to make sure they are covered by insurance.

The city zoning department is responsible for checking up with property owners to maintain their property.

They keep a list of squatter homes that are reported.

Authorities say call police when there's suspicious activity.

"We've hidden back and watched a building and as little as 15 minutes after we leave the scene they are ripping the boards off," says Symanski.

Authorities say you can spot squatters if occupants vary. They always enter through the back or side door. There are broken windows or other debris.

If you aren't sure who lives next to you, call code enforcement to do a property check.

In the city of Las Vegas, they work with Metro to eliminate squatter issues.

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