A south Littleton home declared dangerous after a still-unsolved fire was demolished in the first week of June, leaving neighbors hoping the demolition spells the end of a seven-year ordeal over the …
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A south Littleton home declared dangerous after a still-unsolved fire was demolished in the first week of June, leaving neighbors hoping the demolition spells the end of a seven-year ordeal over the home’s condition.
The house at 7874 S. Windermere Circle caught fire in the early hours of March 19, a day before a city hearing to determine whether it should stay standing.
Littleton Police investigators interviewed owner David Lynch in the days following the fire, said Littleton Police Cmdr. Trent Cooper, but he did not appear at a hearing he requested before the Building Board of Appeals to fight a demolition order for the house on March 20.
Nobody returned a call to a phone number listed for Lynch, and his current whereabouts are unknown, Cooper said.
City officials declared the home dangerous after the fire, according to a city news release.
“The property owner had 30 days to appeal the declaration but failed to do so,” the release reads in part.
The house first came to code enforcement’s attention in 2012 after Lynch was arrested on animal cruelty charges, according to testimony at a city hearing early this year. The house was declared uninhabitable in May 2018, and after the owner failed to correct issues with the house, a demolition order was issued in November 2018.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Cooper said.
“We’ve taken samples from the scene, and we’re waiting for chemical analysis on those, but at the moment we don’t have probable cause to make an arrest,” Cooper said.
Wendy Landin, a Littleton Public Schools teacher who lives next door to the house, said she hopes the neighborhood can move forward after what she called years of problems.
“This has taken such a toll on me emotionally,” said Landin, who filed a restraining order against Lynch in 2006.
She and other neighbors who gathered outside the home as demolition began on May 31 said they believe they’ve seen Lynch on the property late at night on numerous occasions.
Depending on the investigation’s direction, detectives could want to speak to Lynch further, Cooper said. “At the moment, though, there’s no concerted effort to seek him out.”
Neighbors can call police if they see him on the property, Cooper said.
“The house is gone,” Cooper said. “There’s no reason for him to be in the neighborhood anymore.”
Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman said she’s glad to see the situation move toward a conclusion.
“We have to work within the bounds of the law,” Brinkman said. “When you look back at those seven years, it was a repeated matter of him falling out of compliance, then doing the bare minimum to bring it back into compliance. I know it was hard for the neighborhood to deal with, but it’s no small thing for a city to condemn a citizen’s home.”
The city is likely to incur costs of about $30,000 to 40,000 to demolish the house, which the city will attempt to recoup through a lien on the property or through similar legal channels, said city spokesperson Kelli Narde.
The future of the lot is unclear, Narde said, and is in the hands of the mortgage lender.
Ironically, Brinkman said, the fire helped speed the process.
“It was the fire that finally got it declared a dangerous structure, which sped up the demolition order.”
Brinkman said she hopes this is the beginning of a new chapter for neighbors.
“It’s been a long, tedious, tormented process,” Brinkman said. “But this part is over.”
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