Updated: 02/03/2014 6:49 PM
Created: 02/03/2014 9:05 AM WNYT.com
By: Kumi Tucker
TROY - Looking inside 21-39 Fifth Avenue, you can see the vacant home is collapsing. City officials say it was unsafe.
Next door, the vacant, city-owned building went up in flames overnight in a fire that investigators say was deliberately set.
Mark Menard has lived on the block for 44 years.
"It's sad to see a building go. It would have been nicer had someone renovated them in the past. But take a look at them. You can't leave those buildings there," he said. "They gotta go."
Some residents say the buildings were a haven for criminal activity. Others say the vacant houses were in such bad shape, they were concerned that children or others would get hurt.
The fire was next to the Bethel Baptist Church, not far from Bombers Burritos.
Church trustee Flora Carr came to take a few last pictures.
"I've belonged to this church for over 50 years. And these buildings, I remember when doctors and lawyers and all this along here. And I just wanted to take a picture for old times' sake," she said.
Two families in the next building were moved for this tear-down. The demolition by the DiTonno & Sons cost the city of Troy about $60,000.
Fire Chief Tom Garrett says the buildings were unsafe and had to come down.
"We believe they set it in the rear of the structure here in the garage," said Chief Garrett. "And it looks like they used some sort of accelerant, just because of the volume of fire that we had."
News that this was arson does not sit well with residents like Mark Menard.
"That's scary," he said. "That is scary to think that there's someone around that's potentially lighting buildings on fire. That's a very scary thing."