After spotting smoke pouring from a window at about 6:30 p.m., nearby resident Cody Holland, 14, called 911 to alert Sparks firefighters of the situation. Cody’s mother, Kimberly Holland, then saw a man running from the building and vaulting high over a back fence.
A fire department press release said firefighters found the brick structure, at 640 A St., filled with smoke with a small fire inside the front door. It took 11 minutes to knock down the blaze, according to the release.
Friday’s blaze was the third at the structure in the last eight months. The first fire, on the day after Christmas in 2009, was the worst and destroyed the home’s interior, Holland said. A second fire followed on Jan. 13. There was evidence of transients living in and around the home, according to the fire department.
So far, close proximity to the main fire station may saved the neighborhood from a possible catastrophe. Brush, weeds and trash surround the neglected structure, so Holland worries that another blaze could threaten adjacent homes and her apartment building.
“My main thing is I’m hoping they tear it (the house) down after the third fire,” Holland said on Saturday. “Another fire could spread and the yard is a complete health hazard.”
Holland was referring to piles of garbage apparently left by transients in the back yard and inside a shed behind the house. Old sleeping bags, discarded clothing and other hard-to-identify refuse create a stench that wafts on the breeze to Holland’s apartment.
Holland has called the police and city and health officials about the problem but said she’s seen little action so far. After each fire, firefighters board up the building’s windows but vagrants soon return and break back in.
After the building’s resident died last year, Holland said the house was abandoned and may have gone into foreclosure. There’s no signs to indicate the property’s status.
The Washoe County assessor’s website lists Dean Davis and Dennis Hall as the owners. They acquired the property in 2005.
On Saturday, Mark Hvegholm said he’s looking for a new rental home for his mother, Maureen. The 72-year-old lives nearby on A Street, just a couple of doors away from Friday’s fire.
“The fire thing bothers her and others are very concerned about this,” Hvegholm said. Heavy drinking, drug activity and vagrancy are common but seem of little concern to the property’s management company, according to Hvegholm.
The fire department press release stated that city officials are using legal means to try and have the structure demolished.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Anyone with information on the fire, or the person seen leaving the scene, is asked to contact Sparks Fire Marshal Bob King at 353-2266 (office) or 527-3712 (cell).