ALGIERS – More than a dozen people are wondering where they’ll go tonight after a fire on Vaspasian Boulevard destroyed four houses.
As investigators work to find a cause, some of the victims are speaking out, saying this fire could’ve been prevented.
"Well, we don't really have any walls,” said Tamara Nora.
Nora spent the day at her family’s home, digging through 36 years of memories. She was busy saving whatever she could.
“I lived here since I was 5, so just a loss for words,” she said holding back tears. “It's awful."
The house was one of four destroyed in Thursday night’s fire on the 3400 block of Vaspasian Boulevard. Damage was significant and now 14 people, including seven children, have nowhere to go.
“I don't even know where to begin, “ said Nora shaking her head.
Officials say the fire started in the abandoned house next to where Nora and her family lived.
Neighbors we spoke with, as crews fought the flames Thursday, said the building has been an ongoing problem.
"That's the third time that happened in two years and nobody did nothing about it,” said resident Rafael Monsanto.
They’re words echoed by Nora.
"This is actually the third fire,” she said.
Who says years of complaints to the city regarding the abandoned property, she feels, went unheard.
"We've been reporting it, neighbors have been reporting it trying to get it, you know, demolished because it’s an eyesore,” she said.
A statement sent from the city of New Orleans says:
“Currently, there is one active code enforcement case against this property, which was initiated on October 2, 2015 following a citizen complaint received via 311. The property owner was researched and a hearing was conducted on October 29th, 2015. The owners were found guilty of seven violations and fined $2,575, plus daily fines of up to $500 per day. No owners appeared at the hearing, and the fines remain unpaid. The property was recommended for sale and was in the queue for the City’s lien foreclosure program when the fire occurred. Over the past two years, NOFD responded to two previous fires at this location. The first was February 20th, 2016 and the second was November 16th, 2016.”
With nothing left, Nora is counting her blessings.
“On top of losing everything in the fire, I definitely couldn’t handle if I had lost any family members,” she said.
However, she says something needs to change, so a situation like this doesn’t happen again.
"Because now I'm homeless when this could've been avoided,” she said.
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