(FOX 11) - A home was badly burned and neighbors say that squatters are to blame. And they worry the next fire could be even worse.
It sits, half burned, a blackened, trashed blight on an otherwise well kept East Hollywood street. The house on Edgemont apparently sat empty for years, it's elderly absentee owners either unwilling or unable to maintain it, say the neighbors, and that was OK until squatters took over.
The problem of homeless people, drug users, transients moving into empty properties is a city-wide issue. In this particular case, one neighbor who lives in a newish apartment building next door , is convinced , based on smells and observations and conversations, that the squatters were using and cooking meth in there and that's what led to this fire.
I spoke to the Fire Department which officially listed it as ''cause undetermined'', and the LAPD says no one has been taken into custody there. Not surprising. I can tell you the City's Building and Safety Department has begun what's legally termed an ''abatement'' where they notify the last owner listed on County Assessor's roles, via mail, and give them ten days to secure the property and maintain it as secure, (typically a chain link fence) or the city will hire it's own contractors to do it and bill the property owner.
In rare cases, if the owner never responds, the City moves ahead and declares a property a 'nuisance' and theoretically it could be bulldozed. All well and good, but that all takes a bit of time, while neighbors worry about their property values and safety every day.