CREATED Mar. 12, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Firefighters doused a burning home from a fire squatters likely started early Tuesday morning. What's left now is a charred roof and the inside is gutted, according to firefighters.
"I get out of bed and I look out the window and I see the flames about as tall as the palm tree here," neighbor Lodema Weather said. "It was wild and willy."
Weathers lives across the street from the vacant home on Earl Street near Fremont and 15th streets, she said squatters took over a few months ago.
"That home hasn't had a payment made on it in five years," neighbor Kris Johnson said.
According to Johnson, it started with one squatter, but soon got out of hand.
"We're cool you have a place to live we're happy you have a place to live," Johnson said. "But you can't bring every Tom, Dick and Harry you met on Fremont Street back to the house."
Firefighters said at least four people were living at the home and a candle or cooking fire may have sparked the blaze.
It's not the only vacant home in the neighborhood, the house directly next door is also vacant and neighbors think it could be the next one to go up in flames. The house has a shake roof and dry grass surrounds it. A notice to the homeowner shows the property isn't up to code and it's houses like these throughout the valley that invite squatters.
"They come up and it's in all different neighborhoods in the community even in some of the really nice neighborhoods," Las Vegas Fire & Rescue spokesperson, Tim Szymanski, said.
Szymanski said squatter fires are usually accidental, but residents don't want the hazard in their neighborhood.
Residents should call police or contact their local representative if they see squatters.