LITTLETON, Colo. -- A home in Littleton caught fire one day before its owner was scheduled to appear before a commission for a demolition hearing.
South Metro Fire Rescue responded to the fire on South Windermere Circle early Tuesday morning and began alerting people in nearby homes. Those neighbors are upset over the length of time it has taken to get the dilapidated home demolished. It’s a process the city of Littleton says can be complicated and lengthy.
For four years, next-door neighbor Ben Zeck says he has been complaining about the home, which was leaking gas just last week.
"I’m upset. I’m worried about the life of my family. You know, the house nearly exploded last week with my family inside. I mean, this is ridiculous and the city won’t do anything about it," Zeck said.
However, city inspectors say they’ve been to the home on several occasions over the years. Inspectors have cited the homeowner numerous times and summoned him to several condemnation hearings.
In a public hearing in January, homeowner David Lynch said, “I’ve been locked out of my house since approximately April 30 of 2013. I haven’t been allowed on property."
Code inspectors say potentially dangerous homes should always be reported, but declaring them a nuisance is complicated.
"Sometimes, it's about perception -- what [a] person thinks about rubbish or a derelict vehicle or how short or tall their grass can be, and then there are more serious issues like fire and building code safety," said Littleton communications director Kelli Narde.
Inspectors say problematic structures should first reported to homeowners associations if one exists.
"If you see something that appears to be a little more egregious, you probably need to talk to the city government and talk to the code enforcement division," Narde said.
That’s what Zeck says he’s already done.
“They keep saying we have to go through the process. Well, the process is until somebody dies?” Zeck said.
Fortunately, no one was hurt during Tuesday's fire.
Lynch is scheduled to appear at the condemnation hearing Wednesday in Littleton. FOX31 unsuccessfully attempted to reach him late Tuesday.
South Metro Fire Rescue investigators are working to determine what started the fire.