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County DSS fire worries city chief

MICHAEL GEBELEIN
News Editor

A fire at the Lincoln County Department of Social Services building in Lincolnton on May 27 has the city’s fire chief concerned.
The fire, which is still under investigation, started around midnight when two shopping carts belonging to Michael Todd Wilson, a well-known Lincolnton homeless man, were set ablaze. The fire caused an estimated $10,000 in damage to the DSS building.
“My main message is that I’m concerned that if someone intentionally set this fire, they have no regard for that governmental building that is very important to the citizens and they have no regard for Todd’s personal belongings,” Lincolnton Fire Chief Mitch Burgin said. “What’s lost in the shuffle is that it appears that someone burned a homeless individual’s belongings, and it’s much more than that.”
Burgin said investigators have ruled out the vast majority of accidental causes of the fire. Wilson’s carts were approximately six feet apart, and both caught fire.
The fire was limited to the face of the DSS building but much more damage was possible, Burgin said.
“If the windows of the building had failed due to the fire, which was very close to happening, that building would have sustained a lot more damage,” he said. “It was put out quickly but the damage was already done.”
Burgin urged citizens to be vigilant.
“Keep your eyes open,” he said. “If you see anybody walking around that you don’t think needs to be there, give us a call.”

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