Erie Neighborhoods Dealing with Burned & Blighted Homes
After an arson at a vacant, blighted east Erie home this week, neighbors are now being forced to live next to a charred eyesore. Erie News Now has uncovered they are not the only ones, and cleaning up these burned homes is unfortunately not always a quick process.
In three different neighborhoods in the City of Erie, neighbors are either living next to a crumbling burned out home with the stench of fire, or wet soggy mattresses left behind.
Investigators say someone intentionally torched a home on E. 25 St. between Wallace and Ash around midnight Monday.
It sits not only vacant but with charred remains, high grass, and busted out windows.
“My house is two houses down, and this is what you see when you come to my house," said Wayne Turner, a neighbor. "It decreases the value of my home; it's an eyesore."
Neighbors there are not alone. Erie News Now found a couple of other neighborhoods dealing with the same issue.
In Little Italy, a home on W. 17 St. between Cherry and Walnut was set on fire back on March 27, 2019.
The house is on the city's list to be demolished, but neighbors say it cannot come soon enough.
“I feel like this should be taken care of, and we shouldn't just have a time period that we can take care of it in regards to when funds are coming, financial things like that,” said Elisha Pancoast.
A home at E. 6 and German has been sitting charred for almost six months since a fire broke out Dec. 23. Fire investigators say someone intentionally set the house on fire, too.
Who's responsible for cleaning up these homes?
The City of Erie says if a home is structurally unsound, they can get an emergency order to demolish.
“If the structure is completely gone, the structural integrity is compromised, then we can step in and do an emergency demo and put it on the ground,” said Andy Zimmerman, City of Erie Code Enforcement Manager.
Zimmerman says that doesn’t happen often because Erie firefighters respond quickly to put out these dangerous fires and try to keep them from spreading to neighboring homes.
The City then resorts to the often lengthy process of holding the property owner responsible. Zimmerman said many times, it is an absentee landlord or owner who abandoned the property and lives out of town.
“Immediately after a fire, we'll send them a notice to repair or demolish, if they walk away from it, then we'll go after it to declare it blighted, and take it in front of our blighted property review committee and ask them to take it by immanent domain,” said Zimmerman.
In regards to the home at 6th and German, Erie News Now has learned the owner lives in North Hills, California. She has been given an order to repair or demolish, but Zimmerman says insurance claims are holding up the process.
Zimmerman tells Erie News Now the process to notify an owner to correct the issue can take some time, in some cases up to two years.
Erie News Now will keep an eye on these homes and track what is happening with them in the weeks or months to come.