Neighborhood reacts after abandoned building catches fire

Neighbors expressed concern after an abandoned apartment caught fire in midtown.

Posted: Jan 4, 2019 7:40 AM

(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. 

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Temperatures are very mild outside right now with most areas in the upper 40s and lower 50s. Today will be another warm and windy day with temperatures climbing into the lower 70s. Today we will have mostly sunny skies with a few clouds building in during the evening hours. Outdoor burning should be avoided today as low humidity and gusty winds continue. Winds will stay breezy over the next few days with wind gusts around 20-30 mph. A more active pattern of weather will settle in for most of this week with our first chance of light rain overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. A better chance for more moderate to heavy rain with possibly a few thunderstorms will move into the area Wednesday night into Thursday with a cold front. That front will stall south of our area late in the week, providing several more chances for rain throughout the rest of the week into the weekend. Temperatures will be a bit cooler after the cold front rolls through with highs back in the 50s.
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