Tuesday night around 11, firefighters were called to a large blaze inside a home on Grant Street, at the corner of South Main across from the recreation department and Emmanuel Baptist Church.

Grant St House Fire / March 15 2016

The unpowered, unoccupied home on an overgrown wooded lot was a total loss by the time fire crews arrived, and tree-high flames threatened to spread to another house nearby. The occupant of THAT home had trouble getting out, but fortunately for her the second structure was spared by intervention from LFD and Walker State Prison firemen.

Neighbors feared fire spreading not just for the safety of the woman living next door but for the potential size of a fire tearing through three cluttered buildings. The house that burned, at least one of the adjacent homes, and several vehicles on three lots owned by the same family [see below] are piled full of material collected by one of the residents.

Fire inside a house packed with flammable material is more difficult to put out and much more dangerous for any responder going inside to rescue trapped residents. Likewise, a burning house on an overgrown junk-strewn lot is much harder to access in the first place and much more likely to get out of control.

Grant Street Fire Property Map

LaFayette’s government has gotten complaints about the site before. One neighbor recently wrote a letter to the City Manager and Council, describing the compound as “a health or environmental hazard” and an “eyesore” due to “all the debris and trash [resident] hoards.”

The letter concluded by asking the city to hold this homeowner and resident(s) to the same stricter standards other LaFayette property owners are now being held to.

It’s unknown to LU if the city HAS put the Grant Street properties on its sizable list of troubled lots to get cleaned up. Based on the overgrown and cluttered appearance of these homes, their prime location inside a gateway to the city, and concerns of neighbors (not to mention the fire risk), it would only be a matter of time before they became a priority.

Some have been concerned about LaFayette’s recent push to clean up troubled properties – blighted, cluttered, or burnt out lots scattered all over town. While we don’t want the government dictating the length of our grass or the color of our shutters, it’s also hard to argue against enforcing minimal rules asking people to clean up abandoned houses and pick up trash or junk in their yards. There has to be middle ground, inside a city, between property rights and safety.

This fire, and the potential size it could have grown to due to unaddressed hoarding behavior, just reminds us again that cleaning up the city IS important. Not just for appearances and property values, but for reasons of health and public safety.

Because nobody wants more, bigger fires like this one.

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4 comments so far

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  1. From my early memories(dating back to the late very early 1950’s until now, LaFatette has deteriorated from truly The Queen City of the Highlands to a blighted Main Street–both Northand South once populated with beautiful,well maintained residences–into what is best described by friends visiting from Sydney as “Southern redneck juke joints, fast food emporiums and only shiny of what once was” a beautiful southern burg only the stately Courthouse impressed them.
    Say what you will about crooked Majors, Physician egomania majors : the city was safe, taxes low and streets clean and paved.
    You present residents should be ashamed of your stewardship!

  2. Things aren’t what they used to be and aren’t likely to ever be again, but the town is doing moderately better under current leadership.

    If only we didn’t have the surrounding county dragging us down like an anchor..

    — LU

  3. Sad what has become of the “Queen City”…. I drove my kids through town a couple of years ago and they looked at me and said “you used to live here…”???? Pointed out the building that housed my first employer, and noticed it has become one of many useless knick knack and trinket second hand stores, the convenience store where I pedaled to to get my dads smokes (yes, you used to could do that) milk, and penny candy looks like a car junk lot blew up on site, and the many grand old homes on N Main look like they are on their last leg. Lots of good memories growing up, but sad to see it now.

  4. It was a nice place to live, back then, before we let all the good ole boys take over. SAD, SAD, SAD. We the people of walker county are doing it again. Wake up you stupid asses. If you elect Mr. Whitfield he won’t give a rats ass about the poor people, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. And he is friends with all the good ole boys of Walker County. He will only care about Chickamauga. MARK MY WORDS !!!!! So we need to think who we put in office here. My Gosh, Get real People.