Community Activists Asking Questions About Deadly House Fire
By Mike Miller, WJBF Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter - email
Augusta, GA -
Some community activists are speaking out tonight about a deadly house fire that happened in the Harrisburg area last month.
Back in 2008, those community activists brought their concerns to the city about a boarding home on Jenkins Street, and now that one man died in that house because of a fire, they are asking a lot of questions.
It's been about two weeks since the home at 1691 Jenkins Street caught fire, killing 58-year-old Bruce Williams. Community Activist Lori Davis lives right down the street, and now that the house is about to be demolished, she is speaking out about the owner of the property.
"We identified the home back in 2009 and turned it into code enforcement as an illegal boarding house. This piqued my interest when we realized the house had burned and that a man had died in it," Davis said.
Many of the residents there are upset about the fire, and a lot of them are calling it suspicious, but as of right now, there is no known cause, the Augusta Fire Department is still investigating.
Neighbors say 4 or 5 tenants lived inside the home, each paying the landlord on a week to week basis. It's something that Davis doesn't want in her neighborhood, something she's been asking the city to look into for years.
"Some of the boarding houses have bathrooms in every room. Every single room and then they rent these rooms individually to individuals," Davis said.
Donnaree Weeks has been inside the home before and she had concerns about it being a possible death trap.
"I know there was only one way in, one way out. I've discussed that before, as far as a fire, and I've worried about their safety there," Weeks said.
To make matters worse, Weeks says a lot of the windows were blocked because air conditioning units.
"I feel bad for the family. I'm sorry it happened to them. They deserve justice. They really do," Weeks said.
We called city officials about the home on Jenkins Street, but they have not returned our phone calls yet.