Central City fire destroys 3 buildings, displaces 12 people - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Central City fire destroys 3 buildings, displaces 12 people

NEW ORLEANS - A vacant house fire spread to two other homes in Central City early Wednesday morning, displacing a dozen people.

The fire broke out at about 4:25 a.m. in the 2000 block of First Street near Danneel.

"Somebody came, beat on our door, and they just kind of told us the house was on fire," said Derrick Holmes. "We came outside, and it was blazing."

Fire companies arrived at 4:31 a.m. to find the blighted camel-back home fully engulfed, according to a news release from the New Orleans Fire Department. A second alarm was immediately struck as the fire spread to the adjacent homes at 2020 First Street and 2026 First Street.

As the second alarm companies arrived, the original fire building collapsed and fell onto the home at 2026 First St., prompting a call for a third alarm, the release said. 

"Our firefighters did a great job extinguishing the blaze in the freezing temperatures," said Superintendent Tim McConnell. "Taking into account the close proximity of the adjacent structures, this could have been disastrous."

Three families were displaced. They were assisted on scene by the American Red Cross. 

"Homeowners of both the occupied homes tell me this vacant blighted property has been a problem for years, and that it was actually leaning on one of the adjacent houses," McConnell said.

"This is the end result of '08 to now - 2014 - and I really, I tried," said Decarlas O'Neal, who said she reported the structure to the city several times, and as recently as last month. "I I paid my taxes, paid my insurance,  did everything I had to do, and now I have to deal with this, nine months pregnant, and this. The city should have intervened."

"I didn't see them, but I got a good feeling that somebody was probably in there just trying to stay warm," said Holmes.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Late Wednesday the city released the following statement:

"The property involved in this morning's fire had previously received a blight judgment and was in the middle of the City's demolition process. Because it was in a Neighborhood Conservation District, we originally scheduled the property for Sheriff sale in August 2013 when the owners didn't bring it into compliance. The property did not sell, so the City began the process of requesting NCDC and State Historic Preservation Office approval which is required for demolition.

The New Orleans Fire Department is continuing its investigation of today's incident, and based on the damage from the fire, Code Enforcement has ordered its contractor to remove the structure by the end of the week. Protecting the quality of life of our residents is a top priority and we urge residents to call NOLA311 to report vacant or abandoned properties in their neighborhood."



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