House fire highlights home problems
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jan 03, 2014 | 6245 views | 3 3 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Burned house
A burned book sits on the front yard of the home at 2954 Elsinore Drive, Tuesday, Dec. 31, that was heavily damaged by a fire on Dec. 27. Code enforcement has posted the house as a substandard building.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
view slideshow (4 images)

A Tracy man was badly burned Friday, Dec. 27, inside a house on Elsinore Drive that Tracy code enforcement officers had ordered vacated in early September.

The single-family house at 2954 Elsinore Drive, near North School, reportedly caught fire just before 1 a.m. Friday. According to police records, numerous residents in the area called police around 12:55 a.m. and reported the fire and a man yelling for help.

Code enforcement manager Ana Contreras said her division had been investigating the house for almost a year — since Jan. 10, when officers discovered hazardous combustible materials in the front yard. She said officers issued a violation notice the next day to the homeowner, who is named in county records as Betty Gollihar.

On Jan. 30, code enforcement officers visited the property again and issued an order for Gollihar to fix the problem or explain why she could not do so, Contreras said.

Although she said the property owner had made some attempts to comply with the city order, an anonymous call Aug. 21 indicated that there was still trash and debris on the property, resulting in a city inspection on Sept. 10.

“There were substandard conditions, garbage, broken furniture and combustibles throughout the house, and some electrical and plumbing issues,” Contreras said. “The property was immediately ordered to be vacated.”

She said all the utilities were also ordered to be disconnected.

“We had no idea anyone was in there at the time of the fire,” Contreras said. “Based on the notice and order to vacate, there shouldn’t have been anyone inside the residence.”

Contreras said the man who was burned was taken by ambulance to San Joaquin General Hospital with undetermined injuries and was later airlifted by a medical helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center.

The injured man’s name was not disclosed by city officials, but Contreras said he was believed to be the property owner’s son.

Two dogs reportedly died in the fire, and damage was estimated at $275,000, according to Division Chief Dave Bramell of Tracy Fire Department.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Bramell said, but the fire threatened neighboring homes because of how close they were to the burning house.

Nineteen firefighters battled the flames, containing the fire to that structure, he said.

Contreras, who explained that situations of the sort “are always unique,” said that any residents who think there may be code violations in their neighborhoods should call the city’s code enforcement division, so officers can inspect the questionable property.

“Oftentimes, people aren’t aware some of the situations in their neighborhoods are violations,” she said.

To contact the code enforcement division, call 831-6416.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

 

Comments
(3)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
steena
|
January 03, 2014
As an owner and a resident of one of the threatened homes, it is very infuriating to discover through this article that the house was supposed to have been vacated due to "hazardous combustible materials". It is such a tragic shame that this happened.
victor_jm
|
January 03, 2014
So, if I report what I believe to be a code violation with a neighbor's property, should I expect this resolution to take a year and end with a barbecued house?
C3TJ
|
January 04, 2014
Exactly what I was wondering. I know that abatement are an involved process, but a year is excessive.


We encourage readers to share online comments in this forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a space for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Comments that stray from the topic of the story or are found to contain abusive language are subject to removal at the Press’ discretion, and the writer responsible will be subject to being blocked from making further comments and have their past comments deleted. Readers may report inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at tpnews@tracypress.com.