Vacant home burns frustrating neighbors, first responders

The fire was reported at the intersection of 22nd and Bank Streets around 6:10 a.m. Friday,...
The fire was reported at the intersection of 22nd and Bank Streets around 6:10 a.m. Friday, according to MetroSafe. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Published: Jun. 15, 2018 at 10:49 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2018 at 8:09 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Smoke from a large house fire could be spotted from more than a mile away Friday morning. The blaze near North 22nd and Bank Streets was called in around 6:13 a.m.

"I walked out my front door saw orange flames shooting out of the front of the house out of the side of the house," Bobbie Kelley said.

Melted siding and a grassy lot is the only thing separating Kelley's Bank Street house and the now destroyed home she said she and her neighbors have complained about for at least the last two years.

"Vacant house...people staying in it doing drugs doing who knows what," Kelley said.

Friday's scene was like deja vu for Kelley. 

Last year the empty lot next her house, was actually another vacant home that burned to the ground. Four homeless people were inside and a man was charged with arson.

"It's big problem for the fire department," Lt. Col. Jeff Botner said. "We deal with it everyday."

Firefighters told the chief on Friday that they've made runs to the vacant home on Bank Street several times before.

There are said to be around 5,000 vacant homes in Metro Louisville.

In a 2012, a WAVE 3 News investigation found in neighborhoods like Portland, Park Hill and California, the census data showed more than 25 percent of homes are vacant.

There's a slow demolition rate. It cost more than $5,000 to knock down even the smallest house.

"I think its plaguing the whole area, not just this street," Botner said.

The city has launched a number of initiatives to tackle the issue.

According to neighbors, officials were surveying properties on Bank Street just two weeks ago. However, they want more done.

"Get rid of the vacant houses," Kelley said. "Clean it up. You know let's tear them down. Do what we have to do so people like me don't lose everything we have."

Firefighters have called for an emergency demolition of the home on Bank Street next to Kelley's.

No injuries were reported in Friday's fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Public Works told WAVE 3 News they plan to begin demolition as soon as possible and hope to have the house gone by Saturday. The house has a history with the city's property maintenance. They've been involved since 2005. The home had one open case with the city as of Friday morning.

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