Faubourg St. John neighbor Jimmy Fahrenholtz sent in this dramatic photo of a house fire near the intersection of Cleveland and Jeff Davis.
Jimmy said he took this photo at 3:45 pm today – Thursday, May 10, 2012.
A vacant house long on the radar of the Mid-City Neighborhood Association burned Thursday afternoon. Fire damaged nearly 85 percent of the boarded double, acting Deputy Chief David Castle said.
No one was injured by the flames, but one of the 38 firefighters who responded to the fire reported he was injured in a way that did not involve a burn, according to preliminary reports. Castle declined to elaborate on the firefighter’s injury.
The blaze at 3323-3321 Cleveland Ave. was called in about 3:40 p.m. Firefighters arrived at the scene three minutes later and it was under control at 4:22 p.m., Castle said.
The fire was starting to spread to an adjacent home at 3319-3317 Cleveland. Firefighters, though, were able to contain it — but not before it melted the home’s siding. There was no apparent damage to the interior of that home, Castle said.
Tyajai Williams, who lives across the street, said she ran to warn the tenants in 3319-3317 Cleveland while her father called the police.
She said she saw two men wearing hard hats on a side of the building but did not see their tools. After they left, she said, she thought she saw smoke, but wasn’t sure. When she saw flames, she acted.
Lili LeGardeur — who has served on the governing board of the neighborhood association and who lives around the corner from the burned house — said she called the owner of the house, Wilma Spiers, in 2008 to complain about the structure being wide open, moldy and blighted.
The house had not been remediated since Hurricane Katrina, she said.
The neighborhood association in 2010 reported the problems to the city’s Code Enforcement division, she said.
Gladys Galindo Silvas, manager of the home with the melted siding and two other homes in the 3300 block of Cleveland Avenue, said she complained about the then “wide-open” house to City Hall “about a year ago” and reported that it was leaning toward the double she manages. She said she was given a number to follow up on her complaint but no one answered that number.
Ultimately, boards were screwed over the building’s openings.
In January 2012, Miles Trapolin, LeGardeur’s husband, sent an email to Code Enforcement stating the property’s windows and doors are boarded. “However, it has only a partial roof,” which makes the structure blighted.
Pura S. Bascos, director of Code Enforcement, replied via email on January 20 that “an inspection was performed on 1/18 and we await a hearing date.”
Then came the fire.
Its cause is under investigation, Castle said.
As firefighters left the scene Thursday, LeGardeur spoke of being “disappointed, frustrated.”
People work hard to care for their homes in Mid-City, she said.
“People who don’t care, pose a real danger to us,” she continued. “Code enforcement is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.”