Fire destroys vacant north St. Louis home, leaves 4 neighbors ho - KMOV.com

Fire destroys vacant north St. Louis home, leaves 4 neighbors homeless

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By Afton Spriggs By Afton Spriggs
By Afton Spriggs By Afton Spriggs
By Afton Spriggs By Afton Spriggs
By Afton Spriggs By Afton Spriggs
By Afton Spriggs By Afton Spriggs

Fire in Abandoned House Destroys Two Homes, Damages Another

Fire rips through a North St. Louis home and leaves four neighbors homeless.

It happened in the 4400 block of St. Ferdinand Avenue around 1:30 this morning.

When fire fighters arrived, a vacant, two-story house was already engulfed with flames and too dangerous to search.  The concern quickly shifted to the neighboring homes, where fire was already melting the siding off of Ricky Hunt's home.  Fire fighters rescued him and his family after flames jumped to their house next door.

That's where Sherrail Hunt was sleeping.

"I saw the lights from the fire in my room," she says.  "I'm still kind of shaken up a little bit because my room was right next to it."

As day broke, the reality of what happened overnight began to sink in.   

"My daughter -- I think she's had a nervous breakdown," Homeowner Ricky Hunt says.  "The whole back is destroyed.  The back is burned off, and the roof is ready to cave in, so the house is really a done deal."

The Red Cross is helping the Hunts and their disabled cousin who lived in the home on the other side of the vacant house.  But Ricky Hunt says it never should have come to this.

"For about the last eight to 10 years, I've been trying to get the aldermen to tear this house down because there were dope dealers selling dope out of it, men were taking women up in there, all kind of animals up in there -- opossums, rats, dogs -- and like I told them, my most concern was if this house ever caught fire, it was going to destroy our house," Hunt says.

And this morning, that's exactly what happened.

Email to Alderman

I have a call into Alderman Sam Moore.  I also sent him this email:

This is Maggie Crane from News-4. I'm covering a house fire this morning in the 4400 block of St. Ferdinand Avenue. Mr. Ricky Hunt tells me that he's contacted you several times to try to get a long-time nuisance, abandoned home knocked down for fear of fire. Well, that fire happened today and spread to Mr. Hunt's home. His house is destroyed. He also says that house had been a hotbed for criminal activity, including drugs. Can you please tell me what, if anything, was being done to get that house under control? And, please advise what we should tell people who might have a similar situation on their hands. Who should they contact and what do they need to do to prevent something like this from happening again? Do you know who owns the property? Have you had any luck contacting them? I understand that you can't just go knocking down every house someone calls in a nuisance complaint on... I appreciate your time today. I know it's valuable.
Sincerely,
Maggie Crane
News-4 Reporter
mcrane@kmov.com

At 10 a.m., I called back and talked to Mr. Moore's secretary.  She tells me that Mr. Moore has both my email and phone messages but is tied up in meetings this morning.  My colleague Russell Kinsaul will follow up with him today and update you here on kmov.com and also on our evening newscasts.

Under Investigation

Meanwhile, the exact cause of the fire is under investigation.  Fire fighters tell me that they've already ruled out a couple of factors:  there was no stormy weather overnight, so no lightning strikes to consider, and because the house was vacant, nothing electrical would be able to spark.  For those reasons, fire fighters say the vacant house fire is suspicious.

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