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Problem property has neighbors concerned after fifth fire breaks out

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- People living in one South Bend neighborhood are fed up after fire struck a vacant home on their block for the fifth time.

The city put a demolition order on the home at 1121 Oak Park Court in June of 2017. Now neighbors want to know why it’s still standing. The home sat boarded up for over a year.

Neighbors say, the last consistent owner moved out in 2016.

"The city of South Bend is not doing their job," said Bryan Phillips Senior. "They said they could tear 1,000 houses down in a 1,000 days. What about this one?"

Phillips has lived in the home next door away since 1975. It sits just few feet away.

"Five fires within the last month and the city just keeps prolonging it and prolonging it and prolonging it and they don’t want to do nothing about it," said Phillips.

According to the city, there was a legal hold on the property until recently, which delayed demolition. Phillips has serious concerns if they delay it much longer.

"It’s going to burn mine and the lady next door," said Phillips.

Mary B. Williams lives on the other side of the home. Her bedroom window facing it. She missed Tuesday morning’s fire, but has seen two of the others.

"I kept hearing a crunching noise outside," said Williams. "It was one Sunday before I went to church and I looked down there and said oh it’s a fire. You could kind of see in the window."

She’s also concerned of what might happen the next time a fire breaks out.

"I get kind of afraid, yes," said Williams. "It’s right next door and they haven’t done anything with it. It is kind of scary."

Phillips also says the boarded up property is attracting raccoons, rats and mice.

"I got cats outside catching the mice as they crawl out of the house," said Phillips. "They can’t keep up and I got two cats on the inside."

The city says this property was listed as a regular demolition, but because of the recent fires it will likely be moved up to an emergency demolition in 2019.

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