GRAHAM, N.C. (WGHP) — Graham leaders know the old Culp Weaving facility is an eye sore and a safety hazard for people living on Parker Street, but their hands are tied until they can get both owners to the negotiating table.
“It’s unfortunate when people buy property, and people become absentee landlords. This is what happens,” Mayor Jennifer Talley said.
The “this” she’s referring to is the twisted metal, charred bricks and total destruction a fire caused Sunday night, leaving Parker and Canon Streets under a smoky haze for days.
Crystal Breeze lives across the street and has witnessed a similar scene twice.
“I was scared last time when it happened last year because I was like, ‘Oh, my God. They can’t get it out,'” Breeze said.
From her porch Sunday night, she watched flames shoot hundreds of feet into the air, and embers falling around her.
“Our house could catch fire. With the stuff coming over it, it could have still kept burning,” Breeze said.
Breeze and other neighbors are tired of the eyesore and worried about the third building on the property that hasn’t caught on fire.
“Most places like this, people already are making them into lofts,” Breeze said. “Update it. Get it to code. Fix it up. Maybe put a store there or restaurant or something for the homeless. Maybe a spot for them … If not, I think it all should go.
It can’t go until the city gets ahold of both property owners.
“A lot of it has to do with what you’re legally allowed to do as a city and as a county. We have worked with the county attorney’s office with whatever legal process we’ve been afforded to do,” Talley said.
The city penalized the property owners for a number of compliance issues and forced them to repair fencing in different places.
FOX8 asked the city attorney’s office for more information about the legal steps they’ve taken. We also asked the mayor’s staff how much money they’ve fined the property owners, and we haven’t learned the specifics for either.
For Breeze and her neighbors, it isn’t enough.
“You’re making other people’s property value go down. It’s damaging us and themselves,” Breeze said.
Talley says Graham police will help to secure the scene while firefighters focus on hot spots and pinpointing the cause of the fire.