After second fire, FOX59 finds out why home where boy died was never demolished

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By Jill Glavan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 15, 2014) -- After flames broke out Monday in the home where a young boy lost his life in a previous fire, FOX59 wanted to know why the building wasn't demolished.

Firefighters believed this latest fire was intentionally set, after witnesses saw kids running from the building at Washington and Belmont on the west side.

It was the same building where, in December 2012, Dreydon Webb, 7, died in a fire.

Investigators blamed that previous fire on Webb's mother, who was accused of making meth and starting it. She would later plead guilty to a lesser charge of felony child neglect.

So, FOX59 wanted to know why the building was still standing.

"You have to understand at the end of the day, there is a property owner and the property owner has its rights to maintain a property and there’s due process," Adam Baker with Indianapolis Code Enforcement said.

Baker said that each case is different, but that work is done to try and get property owners to comply with laws and fix up properties, rather than tear them down. It takes years to get the point of the city taking over and demolishing a building.

In this case, the second fire Monday rendered the building unsafe and the city called in crews for an emergency demolition.

FOX59 learned that the property is listed under an owner in California who owes more than $4,000 in taxes.

Neighbor Dennis Helton said he'd watched plenty of people break into the building since 2012.

"We’ve seen people going in and out of them, mostly at night. We tell people about it and nothing happens," Helton said.

He was hoping that two other properties next to that one, both abandoned since 2012, would be taken care of so that it didn't spark problems like this building had for years.

"This used to be a great middle class neighborhood ... and it’s just steadily gone down," Helton said.

Starting Oct. 1, Indianapolis Code Enforcement will resume all responsibilities for vacant homes. Previously, that fell on the Marion County Health Department. You can now report a home that needs to be boarded or seems unsafe at any time by calling the Mayor's Action Center at (317) 327-4622.