Rockford firefighters have battled twice the number of vacant building fires so far this year than over the same period last year.
Those findings were released during the city’s monthly Rockstat meeting on Thursday morning. A presentation prepared by Rockford Fire Department showed that the department has battled 26 vacant house fires so far this year. That number was 11 for the same period in 2015, not including 2 vacant commercial building fires that year, including the massive former Asher Tool building fire.
Of those vacant house fires, 11 are considered arson while the the remaining 15 were either accidental or a cause has not been determined.
The Rockford Fire Department also reported seeing a significant increase in drug overdose calls, with 165 so far this year compared to 131 over the same period last year. The highest number of drug overdose calls was in the downtown area.
Rockford police also reported that murders involving guns are up 18% so far in 2016 over 2015, but also reported that the trend for the most serious ‘Group A’ offenses is trending downward. They report the city actually saw 10 year lows in this category in the months of April, May, August and September.