Residents concerned about burnt-out, hazardous houses

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 8:55 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Residents in Wichita Falls are speaking out about the condition of a few homes that they say are becoming a danger.

Some area residents shared they have been concerned about a home that has a history of fires. One resident claims the house has been in a state of destruction for years.

“People that have lived here 60 plus years, that just kind of keep to themselves and rather not say anything, but of course they don’t like looking at it either because it makes our whole neighborhood look bad,” said a longtime Wichita Falls resident who wanted to remain anonymous.

The anonymous resident has seen burnt and dilapidated homes ruin the look of the neighborhood. Residents said this house caught on fire five years ago and since then, there have been more fires. Someone is responsible, but the city says there are steps they must take.

“We actually have to have search warrants to actually go into the home,” said Terry Floyd, development services director for the city of Wichita Falls. “The city doesn’t have the right to go into the home without that due process along the way notifying the owners of that so we can gain access if need be.”

Prior to obtaining a search warrant, the city conducts a visual assessment of the house which includes looking for vacancies, open windows, or a hole in the roof.

“With it just sitting there like that open, all the debris, all the trash just collected there,” said the anonymous resident.

The home currently has an owner who is responsible for the property. Code enforcement officers said they are unable to take over a property unless that property owner stops paying their taxes.

“We really get involved when they become structurally unsafe,” said Floyd. “Whether that’s fire damage or neglect or there’s other areas and that’s really where we step in as a city.”

And in order to do so, several city departments have to agree the property is a safety hazard.

“I haven’t known anybody who said they were going to do anything or be moving anything or tearing anything down,” said the anonymous resident.

News Channel 6 tried reaching out to the owner of the property but we were unable to get ahold of them. We’ll have more information Friday on what code enforcement is doing to deal with homes like this one.

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