5 On Your Side

Fire Damaged Home Needs to be Torn Down, Neighbors Say

Posted March 26, 2008

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— Last September a fire destroyed a duplex in the Heddingham community in Raleigh. Six months later, neighbors are still viewing melted siding, hanging gutters and no roof.

“Tear it down. Let there be a vacant lot. That would be better than looking at what we’re looking at now,” said neighbor Mel Porter.

The fire spread after starting in the unit next door, which was torn down within a couple of months of the fire.

What is left of the burned home remains because the woman who owns it says she is battling her insurance company, Liberty Mutual. She did not want to talk on camera, but tearfully told WRAL that she understands frustration from neighbors.

She says she too is at her "wit's end," especially since she still has to pay the monthly mortgage for the home.

Neighbors are sympathetic to a point, but are concerned the eyesore impacts property values. They want it demolished, and called 5 on Your Side after finding out Raleigh leaders gave the homeowner until the end of this year to take care of it.

Roger Bonney, whose office enforces the city's housing codes, blames some of the delays on efforts to track down the homeowner and the bank that holds the mortgage. Bonney said the inspector should not have given the homeowner until December to fix the situation.

“I think there was some confusion there with the homeowner and the inspector as to some time frames, but that's been cleared up,” Bonney said.

A new hearing has been set for April.

Bonney says the homeowner will have 60 days to either repair or demolish the unit. She just hopes she can resolve it with her insurance company by then.

A Liberty Mutual Insurance spokesman told WRAL the company has agreed to re-examine the case saying the company is "always willing to re-look at a claims decision."

A representative called the homeowner Tuesday. Both sides agreed to get independent appraisals with the hope of reaching a resolution, soon.


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