Fire set outside KidsCope
Published: October 15, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, firefighters extinguished a small blaze that scorched the outside of the building containing the KidsCope offices on Kongens Gade.
Fire Service Assistant Director Daryl George said the blaze likely was started by a vagrant. An off-duty firefighter noticed the fire and called it in, and the fire was easily extinguished with water by the Tango and Echo companies, he said.
Two fire trucks blocked traffic on Kongens Gade for about five minutes while the fire was extinguished.
George said that because the fire was so small and did not do structural damage, it is not worthy of investigation as attempted arson.
"There was no physical evidence of a person being there at the time," George said. "We figure it was a vagrant. The vagrants are there doing stuff like that all the time."
A half-burned rag and bits of charred paper lay on the ground beneath the scorch marks as firefighters left the scene.
Coffie Benjamin, who said he lives across the street, said he saw the fire burning but did not witness anyone igniting the paper and rags.
Dilsa Capdeville, KidsCope's director who, together with her sister owns the scorched building, was horrified to learn of the incident and said that vagrants had been frequently entering the building's courtyard and causing problems on the entire block. She said she had notified police a couple of months ago when a homeless person tried to break in to her sister's living quarters downstairs.
The part of the building where the fire was set contains private offices, she said.
KidsCope provides counseling and services to child victims of abuse and neglect, as well as to families affected by child abuse. The offices are typically closed on Monday, Capdeville said.
Capdeville said Monday afternoon that she would assess the damage to the building and seek police assistance to find out who may have caused the fire.
"The whole building could have burned," she said. "We have never had a fire before but this is really dangerous. I have had to clean the yard because we find paper plates and cups and trash left. I do believe that the vagrants in this area are a problem and that they are getting worse. I really think we as a community need to address this."
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