Albany -- Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a house fire this morning in East Albany, and looking into what this house has been used for.
When firefighters arrived just before 4:00AM at 1300 East Society, the house was engulfed in flames. No one was home, and at first firefighters thought the house was vacant. Now they suspect arson as the cause.
Arson investigators say they suspect the home could have been used for drugs or by vagrants, because neighbors said a number of people have been coming and going from this home at all hours. The power was turned off last week. Investigators are trying to find the man renting the home.
This is at least the third fire in the last two weeks in Albany that could have been caused by vagrants trying to stay warm. Firefighters say they need your help stopping vagrants from using vacant homes for shelter. Deputy Chief David Eddins said "if the people become more aware of what's happening in their neighborhood. If they see people around these houses, give us a call or the police a call, to come in and check the people out."
Investigators found four pitt bull dogs chained the backyard of the house. All were malnourished, and on heavy chains. One young female had scars on it's face that appear to be from fighting.
Animal control officers took the dogs and cited the owner, 19-year-old Michael Stephens with inhumane treatment and invalid tags. Humane Society officials say the dogs are at least ten pounds underweight.