After two suspicious fires in three days, residents of one neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side remain on edge, but they’re not going to stand idly by and watch their neighborhood deteriorate.
The stretch of Eldamere Avenue near East 176th is a little slice of Americana. There are carefully manicured lawns, cozy two-story homes and a sense of pride and homeownership.
And then you see the last house on the block.
Singed, jagged pieces of metal siding sway in the wind. The glass block windows have all been shattered. There’s also a massive scorch mark reaching out a second story window. A large fire ripped through the vacant property, startling neighbors living around it.
“We both got up and looked out the window. To our horror, we just saw these fire trucks and flames,” said Marilyn Cargile. “We were scared.”
Cargile said the home had been empty for at least a year, leading her to believe the fire might have been intentionally set.
Two nights later, it happened again. This time, the house behind her was on fire.
“Thereby the grace of God, go us. Today a vacant house, tomorrow an occupied home,” Cargile said. “We don’t want to see that happen.”
Cargile has lived off of Eldamere for more than 40 years. In fact, that kind of longevity is more of a standard than it is an exception in the area. Cargile’s next door neighbor, Lillian Carter, has lived in the neighborhood for more than five decades.
“I love living here, but I don’t want to see houses burning around me,” Carter said.
The same refrain could be heard up and down Eldamere. Residents say it’s a really good neighborhood, and they refuse to let it die. A neighborhood meeting has been set up for mid-April with Councilman Joseph Jones, Cargill said. Residents will have the opportunity to air their concerns.
Among those concerns, aside from the recent fires, is a troublesome property owner near Cargile and Carter, whose backyard is littered with large piles of junk that only seem to get bigger, neighbors said.
“One thing I can see blatantly, that’s not right. I don’t want to look at that,” Carter said. “I love living here but I don’t want to see [the junk] and houses burning around me.”