Blytheville targeting burned abandoned homes and their owners

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The City of Blytheville is eyeing new laws to help the city rid itself of burned-out homes. Currently Blytheville has a list of about 68 burnouts still standing. That doesn't include 50 or more abandoned houses and structures.

Assistant Police Chief Marvin Crawford who oversees the Code Enforcement department says a lot of the burn-outs are in the West and Southern parts of the city. Crawford says many of these homes have been abandoned for years and have stood unattended.

Crawford, "Deteriorating matter and stuff will just draw rodents and wildlife and things of this nature creating a health hazard for us."

Code Enforcement officer Jim Graham showed me basically what was a burned out framework. Wild dogs were living under the floor which was barely visible due to the over growth. On Kentucky street he showed me another house that had burned. The owner had died leaving the house to his son who was killed in an industrial accident. Graham says he is not sure who now owns the house if anyone.

In case of a fire often times the owner will take what insurance money comes in and disappears leaving the city with a burned up house and no funds to take care of it.

Chief Crawford says they have discussed at city council meetings a plan for an ordinance that would require an insurance company to put money in an escrow account so that if an owner cut and ran the city would have money to clean up the site.  Any money left over would then go back to the owner.

Crawford said that if a house has asbestos it could cost upwards of 25, 000 to have it torn down by a specialized company.

Crawford says they want to get this eyesores torn down before the new railroad overpass is built and drivers will be able to see these structures as they pass over.

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