2-alarm fire destroys vacant home in Desire neighborhood

Paul Murphy talks about a fire Monday night in the Desire neighborhood.

NEW ORLEANS -- The fire department is investigating the cause of a two-alarm fire Monday night in the Desire neighborhood.

A vacant home went up in smoke shortly after 9 p.m., in the 3600 block of Saint Ferdinand Street. Tuesday, George Bowie inspected what's left of his late mother's home.

"It's burned all the way to the ground, Bowie said.

Fire ripped through the vacant double, destroying the two-story wood-frame camelback. Bowie claims vagrants may have started the fire.

"We boarded it up and tried to secure it, but when you have people breaking into your property, repeatedly, there's little that you can do about it," Bowie said.

Neighbors said vagrants have been staying in the home, on and off, for the last month. Saturday, one neighbor confronted them and told them they had to go.

One woman, who did not want to be identified, said she believes those same squatters came back and burned down the building.

"Owners have to do the right thing and take care of their property and at least secure them and get them fixed," New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell said. McConnell added that vacant homes are a huge problem in New Orleans.

"A large percentage of our fires are in houses that are vacant and have not be repaired and brought back into commerce," McConnell said.

Bowie said several family members share ownership of the home, adding to the difficulty of fixing up the property.

"Before we could have it repaired or so, this is what we find," Bowie said.

Bowie is now looking for a contractor to demolish the building.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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