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House fire on Indy's south side part of bigger problem according to those who live there

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Posted at 12:00 AM, Jan 23, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — Many people across central Indiana can relate to having this problem: a run-down home goes up in flames after neighbors tried for years to get something done about it.

WRTV gets frequent messages from viewers concerned about abandoned homes in their neighborhood that are hotbeds for all sorts of problems.

Alix Naveh lives on Indy's south side. On Friday, the home next to her, that she's been trying to get something done about for years, caught fire. Indianapolis Fire Department said the cause was a generator being used at the home.

"I feel like this was a systemic failure from multiple levels of government," Naveh said.

In a series of tweets, Naveh detailed how the home next to hers fell into disrepair once the owner died and the home went into foreclosure. From then until now, people have squatted on the property. She wants to be clear, however, she does not want to blame the man who was most recently using the home for shelter, but something had to give.

"Seeing him run up to his house was very sad because this is his home, this is where his cat lives," Naveh said. "He didn't have power here. His house caught on fire and any of the houses around here could have caught on fire because his power was cut off."

Before the fire, Naveh was told by police they could not remove someone squatting unless the owner of the home, a bank in this case, would give them permission. Naveh says she contacted the bank several times. She even got ahold of court documents that say the bank, at some point, asked the court to dismiss the case surrounding the foreclosure. That leaves Naveh and her neighbors living next to a home that's an open opportunity for someone looking to crash there without having to be responsible for what happens. She said the fire Friday is a prime example of what can happen when no one takes responsibility for a home.

"We really as a city need to be looking into who owns these houses. This isn't the only squatter building, not in the neighborhood, but on this street, there's another one, three blocks down. Another bank probably owns that house," Naveh said.

According to court documents reviewed by WRTV, the bank that is responsible for the home is Well Fargo Bank, NA. We plan to follow up with them to get some answers and hopefully a resolution for that neighborhood.