By Ray King

According to the monthly report from the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department, there were nine structure fires in the city during the month of July.

Appearing on the Oldies 101.3 morning show Friday, Chief Shauwn Howell said that number is in the range the department sees every month.

Four of those fires were classified as arson and Howell said most arson fires in the city involve houses that are vacant or abandoned.

“There’s a large number of vacant properties that have been boarded up and basically abandoned,” he said. “No one has lived there for a long period of time. Those are normally our arson cases.”

Among those nine structure fires in July were a couple of businesses, the former Big Banjo on Nebraska Street and Poindexter Furniture on Main Street and Howell said neither was an arson.

“We don’t have a lot of business fires but when we do it can get very big very quick,” Howell said.

He also talked about how the department is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.