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LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Code enforcement officers, covered head to toe with hazmat gear, entered a home on South Lee Street Wednesday afternoon to conduct an inspection.
They were looking for rats.
Neighbors have been complaining about a putrid smell emanating from the house for nearly a year.
Last Friday, they told Denver7 there were a large number of rats scurrying around outside the house, at 1619 S. Lee Street.
On Wednesday, Lakewood city spokeswoman Stacie Oulton told Denver7 that code enforcement officers found evidence of an "extensive rat infestation."
Oulton wouldn't go into more detail only saying, "the case could end up in court."
On Friday, Denver7 photographer Major King spotted several rats climbing up a rain spout, trying to enter the house through a hole in the foundation.
He also saw several rats scurrying around by a fence, one in the flowers and one on the roof.
Oulton said the city has been aware of the issue for quite awhile, having received phone calls from neighbors complaining about an odor.
She said whenever Code Enforcement officers arrived, the odor, similar to what garbage might smell like piling up in the back yard, wasn't that strong, and there was no evidence that rats were entering the house.
"On Friday, that changed," she said. "The Code Enforcement officer saw a large number of rats."
Odor May be Related to Dead Rats
Neighbor Jenna Mountain said she frequently smelled a strong odor coming from the house, but wasn't sure what it was, until Wednesday, when she saw several dead rats in a garbage bag that came from the property.
She said once the bag was tossed onto the garbage truck it was ripped open.
"When they ripped open the trash, that odor came out in full force," she said. "It confirmed to me that what we've been inhaling has definitely been dead rat."
Oulton told Denver7 they will work with the homeowner and to try to get her to pay for the cleanup.
"The other option," she said, "is you have to go back to court. Some of that can happen fast, some of it may not. If she's issued a ticket, then a court hearing is set, and it's not going to go that fast."