DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Neighbors are demanding answers from city officials after 5 bodies were discovered at the scene of a massive Dayton house fire.
Authorities say the house had been abandoned for nearly a decade, and it is one of many abandoned homes in the neighborhood. Now, local homeowners are asking city leaders to do something.
Muhammed Musa, the imam at a mosque across the street from the house that caught on fire, said that he believes those who died in the fire were staying at his mosque before he ran out of resources to provide for them.
He said the group then started squatting at the home and stayed there for the past month.
“Anybody who has a heart should feel this tragedy,” Musa said.
Residents like community activist Tommy Owens said they want to be able to buy abandoned properties like this to help the community.
“Let the neighbors just buy those houses back,” Owens said. “You know, with the city too long, you know, you have houses that are sitting here for, you know, 20 years and they’re vacant so that people in the community buy the houses back. We have problems with housing. They don’t buy the house. And I think the houses up. And also to serve as a resource for these people.”
However, the house that burned down was not on the city’s list of nuisance properties. It was actually owned by an LLC out of Las Vegas.
City officials say they are working on more solutions to the help with amount of homeless people in the area and to help more local people get the chance to buy these homes back.
“The ones that are in condition where they can be rehab, that there’s a list as far as they’re concerned as well,” Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims, Jr. said.
“We do have individuals who are consistently contacting us and trying to find a way to address that issue. You know, as well as how they pay back taxes and acquire those properties. When we have people who are local, they’re generally more focused, they are more concerned, and they feel more invested in terms of the city of Dayton. So that’s always our preference.”
Dayton police are still working to identify the 5 people discovered after the fire, and the Dayton Fire Department is investigating what caused it.