Hangout for homeless consumed in weekend blaze; at least squatter escaped fire
Published 1:00 pm Monday, April 17, 2023
Fire officials say at least one unhoused person was inside an abandoned home when it caught fire early Sunday morning.
The house, located at the corner of North Second and East Court streets, caught fire about 6 a.m. The fire razed the structure.
Brookhaven Fire Chief Jeff Ainsworth said the first report called in said the trees were on fire, so responders knew the blaze was already large by the time they received the call.
It was at least the fourth time the fire department has responded to a fire of some sort at that location, but earlier fires have been rather small and quickly extinguished.
All utility services to the house and the former laundromat next door — both owned by Don Nations, according to property records — have been blocked to prevent illegal tie-ins to discourage squatters. Nevertheless, the house has been repeatedly occupied by homeless individuals since it was abandoned several years ago.
One such man was at the property Sunday morning when it caught fire. He told firefighters he had been in the house, but had no idea what sparked the blaze.
A for sale sign has been in the yard of the property in recent weeks.
The Brookhaven School District had looked at purchasing the property in recent years to possibly utilize for overflow event parking, but no action was taken and the matter was never brought before the school board, according to board attorney Will Allen.