City to Tear Down Burned Property in Hazleton?

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HAZLETON -- Neighbors near a building that burned in Hazleton this weekend continue to clean up their damaged homes. Now the city hopes to have the burned out property torn down by the end of the week.

This was the scene early Sunday morning along McKinley Street in Hazleton. It was a fire in a vacant home that forced 16 neighbors to relocate, but that's not the beginning of this story.

"I`ve been trying to have something done for the last seven years and nobody down at City Hall would listen to me," said neighbor John Steiner.

In the 50 years that John Steiner has lived next door, the building's been condemned three or four times. He says people often go in and out.

According to Hazleton police Chief Frank DeAndrea, this is where the fooling around ends.

"This is the culmination of the worst case scenario. The only thing that could happen that`s worse than a blighted property burning is someone dying in the fire," said Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea.

Take a look at this roof. This is why the police chief is scared this house might collapse and he wants to take it down by the end of the week. But neighbors here don`t think that`s going to happen.

Like a neighbor across the street who's still sweeping up the fire's soot.

"This time next year, it`ll still be standing. I`m serious. I don`t think tha`ts going to come down right away. I mean I`ll be very surprised if it is," said neighbor Kathy Frask.

Chief DeAndrea says the city is getting demolition estimates. He's not sure if the city or the owner, who lives in New Jersey, will pay to tear it down.

"I don`t know about Friday but I know it`s going to come down because if they`re not, i`m going to be on city hall`s frontstep afterward," said Steiner.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined. Chief DeAndrea says officials couldn't find evidence of anything that started it. But it is still under investigation.