For the second time in a matter of months, an abandoned apartment building fire has threatened nearby residents.
“I thought my house was on fire. I woke up and I was screaming for my granddaughter for she’s in the back room,” said next-door neighbor Edward Juarez.
“I thought we were going to catch fire, the flames were coming out far,” added neighbor Brenda Navarrete.
Dozens of firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire at 5218 Martin Luther King Boulevard – one that destroyed four units this time.
“All we heard was a bunch of sirens and the next thing you know like in the corner all we see was flames,” said neighbor Nicholas Vasquez.
Edward Juarez, who lives directly next door, says this fire should have never happened for neighbors have been complaining for years about the building and its problems.
“I’m not a well man. I said I can’t take this no more, I might be forced to move out of here because the activity, but nobody’s seems to do anything. I said the place looks terrible. It’s a fire hazard,” said Juarez.
“They’re squatters and people stealing from us knocking on our door early in the morning for a lighter. You know, just a nuisance,” said neighbor Joe .
But the city is doing something. It has posted “Keep out” warning signs and slapped a notice on the building declaring it a public nuisance. It’s even fined the property owner $150. But neighbors say the fine is not enough; the building has to go.
“If nobody’s gonna live there, nobody’s gonna be staying there. There’s no even no point of it being up. They should just tear it down and get rid of it,” said Vasquez.
“That place is gonna go up. They’re gonna burn it. I’ve watched them stripped the place, take all the metal out of the building, the air conditioners. I even saw one guy drag a refrigerator out by the cord and drag it down the street to that recycling place … It’s like a magnet for all the homeless in the area and scavengers,” said Juarez.
Investigators say the fire is being investigated as arson. FOX40 also worked to locate the property owner, and, like the city, have been unable to find them for comment.