5 On Your Side

Fire Damaged Home Needs to Be Torn Down, Neighbors Say

Posted March 26, 2008
Updated March 28, 2008

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— Last September, a fire destroyed a duplex in the Hedingham community in Raleigh. Six months later, neighbors are still looking at 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 make the monthly mortgage payment 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 said 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.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • 7Degrees Mar 31, 2008

    As someone who lives in a duplex identical to the one destroyed by this fire, it scares me to think that I might one day have to deal with this. I have actually scheduled a meeting with my insurance agent to discuss this situation in case it happened to me because I understand that I can actually purchase an additional, low cost, policy that will pay out while the main policy is in "dispute" without me having to wai, weeks, months, or years for a final settlement. Yes, it is just another way for the companies to charge us for a service that they should be providing away, but given the alternative, it is probably money well spent.

  • bluford2 Mar 31, 2008

    Our family experienced a similar fire situation in 11/05. house practically destroy and the insurance company dragged it's feet to the point we began receiving threatening letters from the City of Fayetteville, basically saying if we did not demolish or repair our home within x amount of days, they would begin to fine us (the real victims) for each day the house remained standing. They (Fayetteville) did not care that we were still negotiating with the insurance company and the delays were entirely not our fault.

    We were also told that our neighbors had also begun filing complaints to the city regarding the home.

    Just a few days before the City demolished our house,the insurance adjuster had to revisit the home to add on additional damaged property to our claim.

    btw, It took nearly 2 years and more pain than i can begin type here to settle our fire damage claim.

    Stop blaming and penalizing the homeowners when there's an insurance company involved!

  • ghimmy47 Mar 28, 2008

    What's wrong with those peop3e? This is your NEIGHBOR! Get your sorry carcasses over there and HELP her! You complainers should be as ashamed of yourselves as I am of you.

  • Adelinthe Mar 28, 2008

    "Why is she fighting her insurance company and not the company of the party who's house caused this?"

    Not sure, but her insurance company should pay if all is above-board, and then THEY should go after the other insurance company.

    Where's the insurance commissioner on this???

    And boy, I'm glad I don't have ~neighbors~ like this.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Mar 28, 2008

    The State of North Carolina Insurance Commissioner needs to step in.

    Also the State of NC should pass some kind of regulation, which they can legally do, giving the insurance company a certain amount of time to pay a claim or to show clear cut evidence why they should not be obligated to do so.

    Let's remember, as long as it's in the insurance company's pocket, they're investing it and earning money on it.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Squirreling Dervish Mar 28, 2008


    I am involved in a lawsuit similar to what this lady is experiencing. I feel her pain.

  • 7Degrees Mar 28, 2008

    As a homeowner in Hedingham and a member of the voting community for the Board of Directors of the community, I am sad to see only have the story represented here. Yes, the burned out house is an eyesore and needs to be removed, but where are those neighbors outrage against the other homeowner where the fire started? It would be that person's insurance that is responsible for this woman's home. None of us would do anything differently if we had NOT settled with the insurance companies first. I suggest that the neighbors take up a collection and offer to pay for this woman's legal fees and help her hire an attorney to settle the matter with the insurance company if they are that concerned about the issue.

  • PikeMom4real Mar 27, 2008

    Nosey neighbors!

  • blackdog Mar 27, 2008

    ...sometimes you have to hire an attorney to let the insurance company know you are fairly represented....

  • Not a fan of roses Mar 27, 2008

    There is also a house in Cary off of H-55 and High House that caught fire last summer...but it has not been demolished!

    Heard that the home was not struck by lightening, so maybe there is an insurance issue with this home as well.