PETERSBURG - Wilbert Bland is rebuilding his business that stood at the corner of Sycamore and Wythe for nearly 50 years after Monday morning's fire destroyed his life's work.
At the same time, he's concerned that the fire started at an abandoned house and says the property had been vacant for more than a decade.
"At night when I used to come in, I used to see some of the homeless people being in there and they have started the fire," he says. "Don't know for sure, but it didn't have any electricity."
In the past year, 8News has reported on the issue of blighted properties in the city of Petersburg.
"The blight issue has become worse with the economy, and in Petersburg, there are a lot of blight property owners who don't live in Petersburg," says City of Petersburg spokesperson Joanne Williams.
The city has taken steps to tear down blighted properties in Petersburg, but the problem is still there.
"It's not good because homeless folks use them for housing at night and places to go when it gets cold, and it's very dangerous," Bland says.
8News asked city leaders to see if more will be done to tear down blighted properties after yesterday's fire.
They say with the investigation ongoing, it's too soon make to any comments.
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