Oct 14, 2012 5:35 PM by Lacey Steele

Fire in abandoned building from transients in need of shelter and warmth isn't an uncommon occurrence

The inside of an abandoned building burns in downtown Colorado Springs, and the fire department says they believe it was set by transients.

We found out the colder the weather gets, the more chances the homeless will take to stay warm.

"They did make a choice of breaking and entering in this one," said Lt. Stacy Billapando of the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

An abandoned building on Cimino Drive was secured just last week, but people seeking shelter still found their way in.

"It's obvious inside this building that multiple people have used this as a place to stay and basically setup camp," said Billapando.

The problem is when it gets colder.

They will start fires inside buildings to keep warm and cook.

"We do get called a lot for fires being started in inappropriate places, and what's sad is they forget that the smoke and such is very toxic and it has no place to escape," said Billapando.

With these abandoned buildings, fire fighters have to go in and risk their lives just in case someone is still inside.

"Even though it's illegal, people have got to stay warm, and they choose to stay warm," said Billapando.

It's happened for years.

Many abandoned buildings and homes have burned each time the temperatures drop, but those who actually start the fires are nearly impossible to catch.

"Once something gets out of their capable hands, their fire spreads, they leave, and they don't call it in," said Billapando. "They just run away."

Fire officials say they're lucky someone saw smoke coming out of the roof on the building that burned today, or it could have been much worse.

It is abandoned because it was deemed unsafe.

The fire department had already planned to demolish it, so they do not see it as a loss or plan to investigate it.



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