A house ravaged by fire at 2506 Gano last Thursday night was damaged so badly it was declared an unsafe structure and razed by city personnel the next day, Interim Great Bend City Administrator George Kolb told the City Council Monday night.
The house was unoccupied and had been vacant for some time, Kolb said. The condition of the structure was bad enough, but the problem in this case was that it was packed to the ceiling with junk and trash.
“It was used as an internal landfill. It was quite site,” Kolb said. In fact, crews hauled 13 loads of debris to the Barton County Landfill where it had to be doused so it wouldn’t reignite.
When the Great Bend Fire Department and Police Department responded at 11:38 p.m., firefighters and officers recognized the problem, Fire Chief Luke McCormick said. With all the trash, crews couldn’t get inside and had to remain on the scene for an extended period, making sure the blaze didn’t start back up and damage neighboring homes.
McCormick said the immediate demolition was possible under an emergency clause in the city’s unsafe structure ordinance. If the city sanitarian, building inspector or city administrator rule it an eminent hazard, they can order it torn down. In this case, all three signed off on it.
Normally, the process involves an abatement and a series of letters before there is a public hearing at a council meeting, and this can take quite a while. “Property owners have rights,” Kolb said of the procedure involved.
The house has been empty since 2013, McCormick said. At that time, it was deemed an unsafe structure.
Enough repairs were made to keep it from being demolished then, but the storing of junk in the home then became a problem.
A bill for the demolition will be sent to the property owner, Kolb said. If it is not paid, the cost will be assessed against the property taxes.