Taxpayers foot the bill to demolish vacant and burned home in Tulsa

TULSA, Okla. — Earlier this month, FOX23 told you about a mystery surrounding a house fire in south Tulsa.

Neighbors have been complaining about the vacant, burned home, saying it’s an unsafe eyesore. However, crews with the City of Tulsa have begun demolishing the home, months after it burned.

Bill Caughron has lived in the neighborhood for two decades. He said the home began to deteriorate several years ago.

“It wasn’t quite as kept up as it normally had been,” said Caughron. “It just seemed to be vacant.”

The home was listed on the market earlier this year. Coldwell Banking Select relator Kimberly Vining said she found a buyer quickly. She said the home was unusual inside. Vining took video of the interior of the home. You can see that some doors were covered with sheetrock, and some small openings were cut in the drywall.

“We got down on our hands and knees and crawled into this space that was a whole another room and there was no other way to access it except to crawl on all fours into the space,” said Vining.

Vining said the buyer didn’t mind because he was planning on renovating the home.

But the home caught on fire in February, just before closing. Firefighters say nearby homes almost caught on fire due to the strong winds.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but neighbors suspect foul play.

The City of Tulsa boarded up the home in March and put a fence around it. Neighbors are pleased. “All of us want it gone and torn down, something rebuilt or just to clean up the lot,” said neighbor Helen Goforth.

The Tulsa County clerk says the homeowner will pay for the cost of the demolition. It was handed down in the form of a lien. FOX23 also found that no property taxes have been paid in several years. Between the liens and the back taxes, the homeowner owes nearly $19,000.

However, taxpayers are paying that money up front.