HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Fire crews were called to the old William Penn High School building during the morning hours of Tuesday, April 4 for a fire the chief said was intentionally set.

The fire occurred in the area of Division Street and North 5th Street, at the former high school, which has been vacant for years. Harrisburg Fire Chief Brian Enterline said the call came in around 4:30 a.m.

According to the fire chief, a Harrisburg Police officer was patrolling the Italian Lake part of the city, and noticed smoke. The chief also said that the fire took place in the basement, where a pile of tires and rubbish were set on fire.

“It puts my firemen at risk, just by coming here and the job we are doing, it puts them at risk. It is just a callous act that quite frankly is unnecessary,” Enterline said. “There’s more constructive things you need to be doing than setting these vacant buildings on fire and putting my guys at risk.”

The chief says the tires and rubbish were smoky, which made the fire difficult to put out. However, they were able to extinguish the fire after opening some of the windows to let the fresh air in.

This is not the first time a fire has been intentionally set at the former high school building. Enterline said this is the fourth or fifth fire he remembers in the last six years.

“It’s not our first rodeo when it comes to fires here at William Penn campus,” he said.

abc27 reached out to the Harrisburg School District, which is responsible for the property. abc27 asked the district whether it has taken any specific plans to prevent this and whether the district is looking to find another use for the vacant building.

The district did not detail any specific plans, but the District Office of the Superintendent released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying, “District officials are securing the site and we will continue to evaluate our current security measures at the site, as well as our options for the future of William Penn High School. We are grateful to Harrisburg fire crews that quickly responded and are thankful this fire was quickly extinguished without injury.”

Enterline said the district has done a good job boarding up the building, but people will try to find a way in, and he said eventually, someone will get hurt.

“Obviously some folks have found a way to get back in again,” he said. “Unfortunately what’s going to happen one of these times with these fires is somebody’s going to get in there through one of these small openings that they’ve made, they’re not going to be able to get back out and we’re going to be pulling a dead body out of the building.”

abc27 also reached out to the City of Harrisburg. A city spokesperson said the property is ultimately the school district’s responsibility, but the city would like to see it redeveloped.