SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A man died after a fire broke out in a two-story home Sunday afternoon.
St. Louis Fire crews were on the scene in the 4700 block of Adkins around 1 p.m. for a report of a heavy fire in the back of the home. The building was abandoned but a man was found inside.
"This building was vacant. Of course, we go into every fire with the assumption that someone is inside," said Capt. Garon Mosby, with the St. Louis Fire Dept. "A neighbor actually let us know there was a gentleman that frequented or lived in the building so we went into the building with some knowledge."
The man was pronounced dead after being transported to an area hospital, according to officials.
The fire was contained and there was no one else inside the home. Police brought a large gun out of the burning home but didn't confirm if it belonged to the person who died.
A firefighter was also treated for heat exhaustion at the scene and later released.
Neighbors told News 4 that if the city had done something sooner the fire could have been prevented.
"I feel kind of guilty that I didn't push harder but I'm not sure what else I could do," said resident Kristin Hoffman," There's a Facebook thread with over 90 comments in the neighborhood trying to figure out what to do."
Hoffman said she has complained for months to city leaders about a man living inside the vacant home and wanted him to get help.
The City says that there has been 23 complaints and two requests for the property to be boarded up. A spokesperson told News 4 that it was on a list to be boarded up but Hoffman says it's too late.
"Now we have someone that is dead because we didn't do something and that would have prevented it," she said.
Funding for dealing with vacant and dilapidated buildings across St. Louis city is a priority for Mayor Lyda Krewson. Her newly proposed budget allocated $3.6 million, approx. three times more than previous years. The budget still has to go through hearings and approval from the Board of Aldermen.
Since the fire broke out, the property has been boarded up.
Neighbors say the building is supposed to go to the tax auction this fall since the owner passed away but many worry that no one will want it with the heavy fire damage.
Police have identified the man killed in the fire and are working to notified his next of kin.
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