House of horrors still stands years after fire kills Detroit children

- It stands as an unneeded reminder of the tragedy that happened on Detroit's west side. Two young children were trapped inside a burning home and died in the fire. It's been three years and the charred shell still stands.

The home is on Prairie Street, just off McNichols on the city's west side. You may remember the tragic story of the fire at the home that took the lives of two young brothers: Mekhi Williams and Damien Washington.

That was 2013. The memories of the tragic night are still crystal clear to neighbors like Sandra Garner.

"Day in and day out. I remember see the firemen walking over taking the babies to emergency wagon, but they were gone already," Garner said. "When I walk out my home and try to sit on my porch, I try not to look that way because of what happened over there."

Since that day, people in the neighborhood say they've been calling the city and county to have the property torn down. It's beyond repair and the items left behind in front of the home remain: from teddy bears to balloons and even Christmas ornaments. They're all still there, just rotting away in front of the home.

Gary Jones said it's all a terrible memory that he can't avoid.

"You think about every time you drive past, you think what happened?" Jones said. "It makes you think about your kids."

"The memories of what happened over there, it's kind of hard to come out, see that house, and not think about them babies," Garner said.

So, with little action done from the city, we went to get answers. Brian Farkas with the Detroit Building Authority said the home is just a few days away from being removed.

"This property is about 30 days away from demolition," Farkas said. "It's already had the DTE disconnects performed. It's already had the absetos removal performed. So it will go for demo bid in the next few days."

The city just trumpeted their own landmark earlier this week: there have been 10,000 homes beyond repair that have been torn down. Gaston Nash lives nearby and doesn't understand why this home wasn't one of those 10,000, even though that neighborhood is where the demo program started to begin with.

"I mean it's great to celebrate 10,000 homes, but we started this demolition program in this neighborhood and they're still houses like this," Nash said.

Farkas has an answer: it's a process and it takes time.

"It has to go through the foreclosure process. Sometimes that process takes up to three years. We're working with Wayne County Treasurer's office to see where we can speed that up. But once it came to the land bank, we pushed it into the demo pipe line," Farkas said.

The city's building authority tells FOX 2 there is a green project under way for this particular neighborhood which includes renovating vacant homes, building a greenway connecting Detroit Mercy to Marygrove, and converting vacant lots. They did not offer a timetable on the project.


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