Fire Sparks Questions About Building Conditions

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SHENANDOAH -- Neighbors on East Washington Street in Shenandoah say the buildings there have been falling apart for years. They say it attracts homeless people to the vacant homes, and neighbors believe they're the ones who started the fire this weekend.

Lots of commotion Saturday morning on East Washington Street in Shenandoah. Fire in a vacant row home forced six people from their home two doors down. Neighbors say they're concerned.

"I was scared. I was never this scared in my life when the houses started on fire. And the houses should have been taken care of years ago and never were," said neighbor Ray Kendricks.

Ray Kendricks has lived on East Washington Street for more than 60 years.  He says these buildings looked like this before the fire sparked Saturday, falling apart, full of trash, dangerous to neighbors.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined, but neighbors who live here are convinced that the condition of these buildings had something to do with the fire starting.

"There`s a lot of bums living in the houses that come and go. They go in there. They party once in a while. They go in there. We don`t know if they`re selling drugs or not," said Kendricks.

Borough Manager Joe Palubinsky says the borough can't tear the buildings down because Reading Anthracite company owns them. He says negotiations with Reading Anthracite aren't going anywhere.

"They keep on telling us they`re going to do something as far as tearing these properties down, but to date, they haven`t done anything with that," said Shenandoah Borough Manager Joe Palubinsky.

He says the borough has cited Reading Anthracite and condemned some of the buildings. While no one was hurt in this weekend's fire, Palubinsky and neighbors say it's clear that something needs to be done.

"This is crazy because my house is getting so much damage and I can`t do anything to fix my house because it`s all coming from someplace else, and I`m not allowed to touch that," said Ann Nitolo, of Shenandoah.

There's no word on what will happen to those buildings in Shenandoah or if the outcome of the fire investigation could lead to a demolition.