Ahead of probate hearing, residents fed up with neighborhood eye

Ahead of probate hearing, residents fed up with neighborhood eye sore

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

In March, a house explosion killed Rodica Gelca and John Fleming, the home owner. Since then, fire marshals and an insurance company have finished their investigations, but the scorched rubble still remains on 21st Street.

It has been nearly three months and the scene has not changed at all and residents are questioning what is going on. 

Brandon Wagner lives next door to the house and is still dealing with the aftermath. 

"We lost windows on the side of the house, kind of blew off in the explosion, like action movie style blew out," Wagner said. "And our garage took quite of bit of damage, our roof needs to come off and everything." 

Since then, he has called codes and the fire marshals trying to figure out the property's status. Wagner said until he hears a response from them, he cannot repair his garage. 

Down the street, residents Peggy and Jeff Williams said, with the house still standing, it is a reminder of the chaos and lives lost that night. 

"I mean every time you walk by or the wind blows, you smell that smell. The burning, charred remains and it brings back the memories and I can't imagine what it's like for Razvan to have that smell next to his house, and evoke that memory," Jeff said.  

There is still frustration surrounding what caused the explosion. Lubbock Fire investigators said a fire started at the rear of the structure under the carport. The heat from the fire "impinged on several cylinders of compressed gas," causing them to explode.

"I'm angry because I resent that I believed that my neighborhood was safe and it so clearly was not," Peggy said.

Stuart Walker with Code's Administration said since all outside agencies closed their investigations, the next step is reaching out to interested "parties" who would want to do something with the property. He said they have not heard anything back and will have to start with the normal substandard structural process, which can take anywhere from weeks to months to complete. 

"What we do, we do an inspection on the property, we do a title search on the property, and then we'll schedule it for municipal court, to present our evidence and ask the judge for a demolition order," Walker said. 

Once a judge approves the demolition, it will only take a day or two to tear it down. Until then, neighbors are concerned with the problems that come with an abandoned building. 

"Probably a week or so ago, I called the police, the non emergency number because there were a couple people running, going through the house looking at everything and they were there for a few hour," Wagner said. 

When the house does come down, Peggy suggested honoring Rodica Gelca's life. 

"I would like to see it made into a memorial garden, I have talked to him about it, to have it be, demolished and build another house.I don't want it to go away like that, I want it to be something about her, and something about what happened to us as a community in a positive way," Peggy said.

A probate hearing Tuesday could determine the future status for the home left in ruins. 

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