Arson one of many outcomes for abandoned houses in Tampa

TAMPA - Monday afternoon, a Tampa code enforcement officer returned to a vacant home at 4107 North 30th Street. The home caught fire overnight and police are investigating it as an arson.

It's not the first time they've investigated the residence, however. A few months ago, police made an arrest after a man there sold crack cocaine to an undercover officer.  A few weeks ago, they returned and executed a search warrant.

"This has been a problem house in the neighborhood.  We have had complaints about drug activity," explained TPD Spokesperson Laura McElroy.

Throughout the east Tampa block, neighbors call the house an eyesore.  They are not surprised someone set it on fire.  Still, many feared retaliation if they spoke to ABC Action News.

The homeowner's daughter, Carmen Pesca, says her father can't afford to do anything with the home, even after police made arrests in the house where no one is supposed to live.

"He called my father and he is taking everybody to the jail. Prostitution, drugs, and all of that kind of stuff," she explained.

It's just one of many vacant homes with code enforcement history across Tampa. Every month, officers monitor about 175 vacant or foreclosed properties.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn recently announced the Nehemiah Project, through which his administration plans to demolish 51 homes with no hope of rehabilitating (see http://wfts.tv/T6XQgQ ).

Though neighbors aren't sad the house burned, TPD is still actively pursuing whoever is responsible.

"What's their next target? So it's very important to determine who set this fire so they face the consequences because we don't want them setting any additional fires," McElroy said.

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