Damaged home sits untouched a year after fire


by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE News and Photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE


Posted on October 29, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 9:29 PM

AUSTIN -- An eye sore in a Northwest Austin neighborhood has some people demanding answers. When trick-or-treaters hit the neighborhood near Spicewood Springs and U.S. Highway 183, they might come across a scary sight.

"It's not very nice to look at, I'll tell you that," said neighbor James Fischer.

But this is no haunted house.

"It's an eye sore for us," Fischer added.

In August of 2012 a fire destroyed a townhouse on Parliament Place.

"I heard a big explosion early in the morning and I came out. There was a guy trying to put out the fire with a garden hose," described Gerhardt Gast, who lives across the street.

More than a year later, the house is still a mess. The roof is caved in, and the garage has been boarded up. Code compliance officials put up caution tape around the building and posted a notice in October, citing the property as unsafe and dangerous.

"It's just a burned out hulk over there," Gast said.

Gast says the responsibility should be on the owner, not the city.

"I don't understand why they couldn't sell it or why somebody wouldn't buy it and refurbish it," he said.

Code compliance says the owner, John McCarty, is responsible for the damage, and the fines are building against him. They say so far he's been unresponsive. KVUE also tried to reach him via several avenues with no luck.

"We'd like the city to come out and do something about this," said Fischer.

After 12 years of living on this street, Fischer worries about his property value.

"If you're going to sell your house and people are going to be driving by here, definitely they're going to see that and go 'How long has that been there?' Because you can tell it's been like that for quite a while," Fischer explained.

Arson investigators say discarded smoking materials started that fire. Code compliance is putting a fence around the townhouse soon and planning to take this case to the Building and Standards Commission.

The commission will then decide whether to take action and could possibly demolish the property.

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