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November 27, 2012

Warehouse that caught fire had been ordered to be demolished

WALTON — City Attorney Randy Head said the city is considering legal options as it looks to clean up the Sixth Street building that caught fire on Thanksgiving.

The fire toppled a large portion of an unoccupied warehouse that the city had asked several times to have demolished. Head said Cass Superior I Judge Thomas Perrone had ordered the city to work with landlord Jeff Murray to schedule demolition and that he had been waiting to hear from Murray.  

Murray has been in litigation with the city over the Sixth Street building since 2010. Court documents state that Murray received notice on Nov. 8, 2010, stating that the building “was unsafe and in violation of Indiana’s Unsafe Building Act.”

The court approved the parties agreed consensus on June 17, 2010, when Murray pledged to make repairs such as securing the first- and second-level floors and ceiling joists and rafters and remove fallen rafters and build up roofing by Aug. 31, 2011.  

The repairs were not made and the city claimed that Murray had not applied for a design release nor “taken action to remedy the building’s unsafe condition.”

At a Sept. 11 hearing, Murray agreed to demolish the building because it was “not salvageable,” according to court documents.

“He agreed the building needed to be torn down,” Head said.

Court documents state that Murray was ordered to supply information on the costs and dates for demolition.

“The judge ordered us to work together,” Head said.

Head said he had sent several letters to Murray asking about the schedule for the project, but had not heard back. Contacted Monday, Murray denied receiving those letters.

According to Head, the city cannot take any legal action against Murray for not responding, but a court hearing is available if either party asks.

Currently, the city is looking to work to free the gas line for Kevin Crook’s insurance agency, which the demolished building is blocking, Head said.

“Right now, it’s impeding the gas line to the insurance company,” Head said.

Ultimately, Head said the city has a few legal options to consider to clean up the site.

“We want the property cleaned up, and we want the hazard gone,” Head said.

During a brief conversation Monday at the County Government Building, Murray denied receiving any letters from the city. He declined any further comment.

The blaze that destroyed the building remains under investigation, according to Jason Miller, fire investigator at the Logansport Fire Department. He said he did not have any time line for when the cause could be determined.

Asked if he believed the fire was intentionally set, Miller said he could not answer.

“I have no comment on that,” he said.

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

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