House burn goes ‘smoothly’

Published 1:00 am Friday, May 15, 2009

Large black fumes billowed overhead a home on L.L. Anderson Avenue, covering up the otherwise blue sky. Unknowing passersby might have thought Selma firefighters moved slowly, but that was all a part of the plan.

Selma Code Enforcement and the Selma Fire Department worked together on a controlled burn of a dilapidated house at 1801 L.L. Anderson Ave. Thursday morning.

“We gave notice to the owners of the property that this home was dilapidated,” Darryl Moore, code enforcement officer, said. “This house was considered a controlled burn candidate because it was not close to any other homes.”

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The owners of the home had two choices if they didn’t want their home burned: Repair the property or demolish it themselves.

However, both options cost owners of these homes money, but a controlled burn does not.

“A controlled burn eradicates the dilapidated property and it saves money for the owner,” Moore said. “It also provides the Selma firefighters with training.”

Nine firefighters remained close by the house at all times during the burn and kept the flames from starting any unintentional fires.

“The controlled burn went smoothly,” Fire Chief Henry Allen said. “It went better then most because sometimes starting the fire can be slow. This house was old with a lot of pine so it was easy to start. It only took about five minutes.”

Helping the firefighters along the way were fire curtains, a sprinkler like instrument that protects power lines from the heat and flames of the fire.

Allen said one thing you didn’t want to do during a controlled burn is destroy someone else’s property, including Alabama Power’s.

Velma Brewer grew up just two houses down from 1801 L.L. Anderson Ave., but lives elsewhere now. She knows the family who owns the house, but said the burn was a good thing.

“I was born and raised in this neighborhood,” she said. “I knew the Joneses who own the house being burned. They all moved out of Selma to Chicago and no one was here keeping up the house. I think this is good that the community is getting rid of the house because now we can move forward and put a new home there.”

Brewer said she would like to see more dilapidated homes like the one on L.L. Anderson destroyed.

She might just get her wish. There is a list of houses that are controlled burn candidates and they may soon be the next ones to be destroyed.

“We’ve sent letters to all the property owners notifying them,” Moore said. “If they don’t respond in 31 days from the time they get the letter, then the home can be burned. Then they still have to repair it or destroy it or else the home can then be burned.”