(ST. JOSEPH, Mo) An abandoned structure on 16th Street went up in flames Wednesday night.
"When crews got to the scene, it was completely engulfed." Mindy Andrasevits, Fire Inspector St. Joseph Fire Department said.
The fire was so large, SJFD took a defensive approach, containing the inferno and keeping the fire from spreading to a neighboring home.
"[The neighbor] was already feeling the heat from the fire," Andrasevits said.
Johnny Raven lives across the street from the burned building.
"It was just completely engulfed in flames," Raven said.
Neighbors in the area told KQ2 that the building had been a gathering place for squatters. Raven said his landlords would try to address the issue with no avail.
"It became this kind of game of hot potato of finding who owns the property and who’s responsible for the derelict condition of it," Raven said.
The fire department said neighbors had a strong suspicion of what caused the blaze.
"Neighbors reported that a lot of homeless individuals were in and out of the building and sleeping there at night," Andrasevits said.
Raven confirmed the concerns but expressed optimism.
"Luckily, I think the city council is working on measures to try to improve [abandoned homes] for everyone the city," Raven said.
"[Hopefully, they can make some of these] old abandoned buildings beautiful again," Raven said.
SJFD said they responded to the same building as recently as a couple weeks ago for a smaller fire.