Springfield, Mo- Fire damaged the back of a house in the 800 block of West Scott, south of Grant Beach Park Wednesday morning.
Firefighters say no one was in the house when the fire started around 8:15. They say an addition to the house made it difficult to put out the flames in the roof.
A neighbor told police this is the third time that the house has caught fire. The cause is under investigation.
Some neighbors say they belive this fire is just the latest example of the city turning a blind eye to problem properties.
Kevin Mills, who lives down the street, stated, "In the city of Springfield, they should have more say-so on how a person keeps their property. If they can give me a ticket for not mowing my grass, surely they can give somebody a ticket for having a couch sitting in their front yard or windows broken out or no running water....they [landlords] are free to do what they want and to me that is absurd. He added, "There should be some kind of legislation locally, that if you don't clean your house up...and am not saying a house that has a few things...and in a respectable amount of time it should be given to an organization that is going to use it."
The city says it knows dangerous properties are an issue. In fact, it has 300 active cases right now for dangerous buildings, and gets 10,000 calls per year to the Citizen Resource Center pertaining to nuisance and/or properties. It also says, since landlords have rights, the city can not forcefully take over a property. The process to remedy a situation can take months.
City Manager Greg Burris said, "We follow up on all of those. It is an overwhelming number at times, and we have inspectors that go out and assess which one of those and we prioritize those, and we start taking action on those as quickly as we can." Burris added, "There is a large backlog of dangerous properties out there that need to be addressed and so we are addressing them as fast as we can. But, in next year's budget, we will have even more resources."
Burris explained the upcoming budget will have a renewed focus on cleaning up neighborhoods. $274,000 will be set aside for trash and weed abatement, and $300,000 for the assessment and demolition of dangerous buildings.