Neighbors say burned house problem before fire - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Neighbors say burned house problem before fire


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -- Ashes litter the front porch of Tony Dunbar's home and, for a while Friday night, he worried flames would spread.

A fire at an abandoned home on the corner of St. Roch and Claiborne quickly grew to two alarms, Friday night.

"The police came and got us out the house and they asked us to get over and the fire started coming this way toward the house," says Dunbar.

The New Orleans Fire Department is still investigating the cause and firefighters say it is considered suspicious.

Dunbar and other neighbors say squatters were constantly going in the home, which had been empty even before Katrina.

New Orleans tax records show a code enforcement lien of $9,465 dating back to 2009.

"The door used to stay open," says Dunbar. "It had two doors, one here and one there and used to have the door, it would just hang open and you'll know when somebody's in there because the door was closed, so it was never secure or locked up. It was always open."

Friday night's fire was at least the third in a vacant home in the last ten days.

NOFD is still investigating what sparked a three-alarm fire on North Galvez Thursday night.

Neighbors there said they also saw vagrants in the home.

A fire at a blighted house in Central City last week spread to two other homes and displaced 12 people.

A city spokesperson said the property was in the demolition process after years of complaints from nearby residents.

Just a block down St. Roch from Friday night's fire, another blighted house.

Allison, who didn't want to give her last name, lives next door.

"There's syringes inside, there's dirty stuff inside," she says. "Somebody was living there for a long period of time and they had their own little bar set up but piles of garbage, definitely rat issues from all of that."

The house has an outstanding lien from 2011 and neighbors are frustrated nothing's being done to fix it up or tear it down.

"I feel like it sets us up to be vulnerable to theft and to more violent crimes and sets people up to have a place to hurt themselves," she says.

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