Central City blighted property fire

Louetta R. Clark

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At least eight residents were displaced Tuesday after a huge fire early that morning inside an abandoned home along First Street. Many in the area tell WDSU the fire could have been prevented.Central City Councilwoman Leslie Harris told WDSU inspectors have recorded at least 12 open violations dating back to 2020. Including rodents, high grass and the home being in danger of collapsing. Mary Ekstrom, a displaced resident, said, “I woke up and heard glass crackling. I looked out my window and thought maybe it was someone throwing beer bottles. I looked over and there were, like, flames. A lot of flames coming out of the next house. I ran in and got my housemate and dogs and we ran out.”Ekstrom said she ran out in the middle of the night after the abandoned home next to hers caught fire and spread. Another house on the other side of the blighted property also caught fire. “You could smell the smoke and feel the heat. That’s when you know it’s real,” said Olivia Houston, also a displaced resident. Most of the residents are students. “I know I had class all day today. My books are gone. My laptop is gone. It is crazy. It did not sink in until we went inside of the house,” Houston said.The owner of the apartments and neighbors said they had been complaining to the city for years about the abandoned home and the squatters who frequent it. Andrew Feldman, the owner of the apartments, said, “It’s been an abandoned building for over a decade. The whole neighborhood has reported it as a code violation hundreds of times. “”It got really bad really quickly. The fire. So we got out when we could. That’s what matters most,” Ekstrom said.The Red Cross has been assisting displaced residents. Residents have also set up a GoFundMe account for those who may want to help them in replacing some of their items lost in the fire. Links Here:https://gofund.me/9909d32e Fundraiser by Carley Nelson : Help the Ortegas Recover from House Fire (gofundme.com)

At least eight residents were displaced Tuesday after a huge fire early that morning inside an abandoned home along First Street. Many in the area tell WDSU the fire could have been prevented.

Central City Councilwoman Leslie Harris told WDSU inspectors have recorded at least 12 open violations dating back to 2020. Including rodents, high grass and the home being in danger of collapsing.

Mary Ekstrom, a displaced resident, said, “I woke up and heard glass crackling. I looked out my window and thought maybe it was someone throwing beer bottles. I looked over and there were, like, flames. A lot of flames coming out of the next house. I ran in and got my housemate and dogs and we ran out.”

Ekstrom said she ran out in the middle of the night after the abandoned home next to hers caught fire and spread. Another house on the other side of the blighted property also caught fire.

“You could smell the smoke and feel the heat. That’s when you know it’s real,” said Olivia Houston, also a displaced resident.

Most of the residents are students.

“I know I had class all day today. My books are gone. My laptop is gone. It is crazy. It did not sink in until we went inside of the house,” Houston said.

The owner of the apartments and neighbors said they had been complaining to the city for years about the abandoned home and the squatters who frequent it.

Andrew Feldman, the owner of the apartments, said, “It’s been an abandoned building for over a decade. The whole neighborhood has reported it as a code violation hundreds of times. “

“It got really bad really quickly. The fire. So we got out when we could. That’s what matters most,” Ekstrom said.

The Red Cross has been assisting displaced residents. Residents have also set up a GoFundMe account for those who may want to help them in replacing some of their items lost in the fire.

Links Here:

https://gofund.me/9909d32e

Fundraiser by Carley Nelson : Help the Ortegas Recover from House Fire (gofundme.com)

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