ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Vacant fires over the past two months including large fires at the old Hanley Furniature building, and the two buildings on seventh street mark a new concern for Rockford Fire.
Last year, the department didn't respond to any vacant commercial building fires, but this year that number has risen to seven. Rockford Fire Chief, Derek Bergsten says while the increase is a significant change for the fires his crews have to battle, they are still working to make sure they can quickly respond to keep the rest of the city safe.
Chief Bergsten says another significant factor in the rise in fire calls comes from people setting fires in areas where open burning is not allowed. Since last year, Rockford Fire crews responded to 50 percent more of those calls.