"Gasoline has the explosive power of dynamite," he said.
Macduff said he will meet with the Monticello Homeowners Assn. members
soon to discuss some of the issues that can be controlled in such a
setting. Such a meeting between city officials and Monticello homeowners
is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
With residences, nobody has the authority to regulate the way people
store their belongings. But condominium associations may be able to
enforce strict regulations, Macduff said.
He said fires in the city's businesses have gone down drastically
since the Fire Department started inspecting them for hazards every year.
"With residences the only solution would be more educational programs
and voluntary compliance," Macduff said. "We put out information all the
time, but nobody really listens until something major happens."
Monticello resident Bob Michna agreed and said residents and the
homeowners association must work together to "make ourselves safer."
"I don't think we should be afraid to approach a neighbor and request
them to keep their garages in a more orderly fashion," he said.
But others said they believe the fires were purely coincidental.
Robert Myers, a long-time resident, said he remembers a fire that
burned down a townhouse more than 20 years ago.
"It was a spark from starting a motorcycle that ignited something and
the whole unit went down," he said. "I guess this is just something that
happens from time to time. It was just a freak incident that there were
two fires in three days."
Myers said he feels the complex has imposed enough rules and
regulations on its residents "to last a lifetime."
"You can't tell a person to clean up their garage just as you can't
walk into somebody's house and ask them to do the dirty dishes or vacuum
their carpet," he said.
People will continue to use their garage for storing their belongings,
Professional Community Management, the company that manages the
property, is focusing on working with insurance companies to repair the
damaged homes, said spokeswoman Debbie Evans.
She said the company was not planning on rewiring the circuits. The
homes were built around 1964.
"We haven't heard from the investigators about anything being wrong
with the wiring," Evans said.
She said the consecutive fires were unexpected.
"It was a total shock," Evans said. "It's very unfortunate for that
* Deepa Bharath covers public safety and courts. She may be reached at
(949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at o7 firstname.lastname@example.org .