Vacant house under code violations

Published 10:37 pm Thursday, June 25, 2009

The owner of the house destroyed by fire Wednesday has been served notice of housing violations at least three times in the last 14 months — once as recently as June 1 — but has yet to fix the problems or pay any of the $2,250 in fines he’s been assessed so far.

The city issued a notice of violation to Thomas W. Dana III in May 2008 for numerous failures related to the house at 120 Franklin St.

According to General District Court records, he had failed to scrape and paint the house; secure it against unlawful entry; and repair the front porch, broken windows, exterior walls, interior walls, an overhang extension, trim and other aspects of the structure.

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That case, originally scheduled for June 5, 2008, was continued three times, until judgment was finally entered in November 2008.

One month later, on Dec. 16, Dana was again served with notice of the same violations. This time, the case was set for February and continued until May 7, 2009, when judgment was again entered against him. He still had not paid the fines for either judgment through Thursday afternoon.

On June 1, Dana was again cited for the same violations. This time, the hearing is set for July 2. The house in question, however, didn’t make it that long.

Wednesday’s fire began in or near the vacant house owned by Dana, according to city officials, and spread to both its next-door neighbors — displacing 11 people, destroying at least two vehicles and injuring four firefighters. The fire service worked into the early morning hours putting out the blaze, and some remains still were smoldering on Thursday afternoon.

Fire investigators still are trying to determine the cause of the fire. Only a skeleton of the vacant house remains. The house at 124 Franklin St., owned by Kelly Golden, is a total loss.

“We don’t have nothing,” Golden said. He and seven extended family members lived in the duplex. The house was shifting and in danger of caving in on Thursday afternoon, and as a result, the family is unable to salvage anything before it is demolished.

“They went in and got us a few pictures,” Golden said, indicating a group of firefighters. The pile of pictures and assorted other papers rested on a brick column outside the headquarters of the Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society across the street. The photos show Golden’s nieces, nephews and cousins smiling for school pictures in front of brightly-colored backgrounds.

Golden said that while the Pabis family on the other side of the vacant house might try to rebuild, he won’t be able to salvage any part of his house.

“If we rebuild, it will go from the ground up,” he said.

Phone calls to two numbers listed for Dana went unanswered Thursday.