Elderly homeowner wants eyesores gone after fire damages house

- An elderly Detroit homeowner is afraid for her own safety after a big fire next door nearly destroyed her home.

She's been trying to get city crews to tear down two eye sores for years but there's been no response.

Sammie Ross has lived at her home for more than half a century. It appears the city is now ready to tear down vacant houses that have stood there for years, but it wasn't in time.

"This is mine. I have a beautiful home. I did. I still want to stay here," she said.

Ross showed images of the Detroit home she adores. It's where she raised her three boys and planned to live for the rest of her life.

That is until two arson fires at both abandoned houses next door on Fairview nearly burnt her home down.

"I'm afraid of this house -- the siding -- because you've got a gas meter and then you've got a DTE line coming from the house to the pole. ... If that falls, it's going to fall on me again," Ross said.

Ross says three years ago someone set this house on fire, which caught fire next door. Luckily firefighters were able to put it out and protect her home..

The 77-year-old claims she called the city multiple times to have the dangerous structures torn down but nothing happened.

And then, last July, her luck ran out.

Ross was watching TV when she says the houses caught fire again. This time the flames traveled fast..

"I fell to the floor this time to get to the phone to call the operator for the fire and it was about seven trucks that came," she said. "It was horrible."

The whole side of her house was left charred and the inside was gutted after the water damage..

Insurance will cover some of the costs, but her son says not enough -- she will need help to rebuild.

"I want her to be safe at home like she was before all this happened," said her son Kenneth Gandy.

But first, what's left of the eyesores needs to go. John Roach from the City of Detroit claims the structures are on the emergency demolition list. Contractors were sent a few weeks ago to bid on the tear down. The city is waiting to make a decision on what company and for DTE to shut down the power.

Roach expects the lots to be cleared within a week.

"I love the city," Ross said. "My boys grew up here. My family is here. ... It's scary, but I'm not going anywhere. I just want my home back -- I really do."

FOX 2 will be following up to make sure the city keeps its word.

We're told it wasn't torn down initially because it wasn't in the zone for the hardest hit funds.

When they caught fire for the second time -- the houses qualified for emergency demolition.


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