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Bronx home goes up in flames after years of complaints from neighbors, who now face new mess

By LISA ROZNER

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — A foul-smelling mess in the Bronx has turned into a neighborhood’s worst nightmare.

More than three years ago, CBS2 reported on complaints to the city about a Throggs Neck home with unsanitary items taking over the front and back yards.

On Monday, it went up in flames, and neighbors say it has created new problems that they are again begging the city to address.

The heap of burned-out items that remain at the Balcom Avenue home is something neighbors say they saw coming. Chopper 2 was overhead Monday as smoke billowed out from the rooftop.

More than 100 fire and EMS personnel responded. Four firefighters sustained minor injuries, and the resident, who is in his 70s, that lives inside was taken to Jacobi Hospital in serious condition.

In 2019, CBS2 reported on hoarding concerns there, including urine in the driveway, buckets of dead fish, flies and mosquitoes.

“We just want him to get the help that he needs,” one neighbor said at the time.

Rozner even brought the issue to then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said, “We will get out there immediately and see what we can do.”

The city issued some violations and sent a social worker, but the resident refused help.

Neighbors showed CBS2 dozens of complaints they continued to file since 2019. They say, again, under Mayor Eric Adams, they were hung out to dry.

“I’ve seen them just drive by the house after a complaint,” neighbor Lauren Torres said.

“The fire department told us it’s not ‘if,’ it’s ‘when,’ and that’s when they gave us the fire plan,” added neighbor Rayme Torres.

Due to smoke and water damage, the families of the attached homes say they have to stay somewhere else for now.

“I don’t think it’s fair that we’re stuck with all this damage,” Torres said.

Even though the burned materials are clearly encroaching on neighboring properties, neighbors say the city told them they cannot remove any of them without the homeowner’s consent.

“Health risk now. There’s so many jugs of urine in there. The firemen found needles upstairs, hypodermic needles. I’m assuming they’re insulin,” Torres said. “Rodents, they were pulling dead cats out of there, like crazy… It stinks. There’s dead animals, obviously. We’ve seen some, we don’t know how many. There are cats trapped in the back under the mound, because you hear them.”

“The bank owns the house, so who’s going to take responsibility? I think the city should do it, of course they should do it,” said neighbor Anthony Maleton. “What are they saving? It’s a hazard.”

The Department of Buildings says a 2019 violation for failure to maintain the property was dismissed.

In 2020, when inspectors responded to a complaint about structural stability, they were denied entry. One noted there were no exterior concerns.

The departments of Sanitation and Health and the mayor’s office have not yet responded to multiple emails.

Citing confidentiality, the Department of Social Services would not disclose if it has sent a social worker to the home since 2019.

CBS2 also contacted the bank listed as the property owner, but has not heard back.

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