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Home still stands despite three fires in seven months

Neighbors want city to tear burned-out home down
Posted at 5:28 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 18:20:27-05

CLEVELAND — After four decades of living in her Collinwood home, Rose Clark just wants to feel safe again.

"You can't sleep at night because I'm constantly looking," said Clark. "Every time I hear something I'm looking out the window."

And with good reason. The house next door to her on Argus Avenue has burned three times since May. Each time investigators say the fire was intentionally set. A fire early Tuesday was the worst she said.

"All you saw was flames all up in that window," said Clark. "I mean it was burning."

She said the last tenants moved out of the house in May. Days later, the first fire happened. Then, the second fire in October melted the siding on her house. More of her siding was scarred in the latest fire.

She doesn't understand why the house hasn't been torn down by the city.

"They need to take it down, not tomorrow, not two or three days later," said Clark, "they need to take it down right away. Like yesterday."

So why hasn't it happened sooner?

A fire department spokesman said they don't request demolition unless half of a home damaged or it's an imminent threat.
The city's director of building and housing said they haven't been able to contact the out-of-state owner of the home.

Councilman Mike Polensek who represents the neighborhood is sick of it.

"We have the legal ability to take these properties down that are a threat to the community," said Polensek. "Do it! Quit making excuses. I'm sick and tired of this crap at city hall. Take this stuff out of here."

Polensek said he wrote the administration twice about getting the home torn down.

"Homeowners, responsible homeowners took care of their properties and now their homes are damaged because of this rat trap," said Polensek. Get it out of here!"

Clark worries that if the wrecking ball doesn't come soon, the charred shell of a house next door will remain a risk to her family.

"That's the way I look at it, a ticking timebomb," said Clark. "This time we got out. The next time we might not be as lucky."

A fire department spokesman said they have now asked the home be added to the list for immediate demolition. A city spokeswoman said they "aim to have the structure razed before the new year."