By Jennifer Kastner. CREATED Nov 3, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV-TV) -- A valley neighborhood is rattled after a house catches fire and those who live nearby say squatters are to blame.
Just before 11 p.m. on Saturday, crews were called to the blaze at 602 Cactus Lane, off Jones Boulevard and Alta Drive.
Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Tim Szymanski says the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but neighbors report that homeless people constantly go into and out of the house. Some neighbors believe they are to blame for this house fire.
Authorities say the flames started into a bedroom when bedding material somehow caught fire. The blaze was confined to that one room. There were no reported injuries. The fire is estimated to have caused roughly $50,000 in damages.
Neighbor Yadira Nieves says squatters have been sneaking into the vacant house for at least 6 months. "They break in. Sometimes they spend the night. We always catch them in the morning and they're already leaving," she adds.
Neighbor Craig Weaver says the news is unsettling, primarily because he's raising a family across the street. "I've got two kids. [I've got a] three-year-old and a five-year-old," he tells us. Weaver goes on to say, "We thought that house was just for rent and [someone] just recently put out the bank sign that says it's a foreclosed house."
The house was vacant for five months without being boarded up, claims neighbor Marlon Haggard. He tells Action News he thinks the situation may have turned out differently had someone taken more responsibility for the home earlier on. "[The door would sometimes be] completely wide open. It wouldn't always shut. When the wind blew, it would open," he says.
Szymanski tells Action News his department's crews responds to about one vacant house fire each week.