Woman dies after fire at vacant Denver home, neighbors complained about the property for years

Neighbors say squatters have been in and out

DENVER — A woman has died after she was found inside a vacant Denver home that caught fire early Tuesday. Neighbors said the home has remained a hazard for years. 

The woman has not been identified. Fire investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire. They have not said why she was inside the home.

Police and firefighters responded to the home on Raritan Street just north of 44th Avenue shortly after midnight. Neighbors said the home has been a source of frustration for years and that they've filed numerous complaints with the city.

"A few months back I saw the police department come," said Leo Dunn, adding that house has been vacant ever since he moved in five years ago. "It looked like there were a couple squatters that were in there. They took them out of there. Otherwise, I never saw anyone go in or out of that house." 

Police could not confirm if the deceased woman was a squatter.

Trash and furniture litter the lawn, the yard is messy and a "for sale" sign recently went up on the front lawn. A spokesperson for the city of Denver said the home was boarded up and an inspector visited the property less than a month ago.

According to Denver's Community Planning and Development Department, the city appointed a receiver for the property earlier this year. People living nearby said the move came too late because the home has been a hazard for years. 

In 2014, Denver took the case to a hearing officer who allowed them to fine the owner $999 per day, but that didn't seem to give him any incentive to clean things up. 

Denver7 attempted to reach the owner by phone and sent a reporter to his house in Arvada, but he didn't answer. He owns another dilapidated home across the street from the one that caught fire and notices are piling up on the front door.

"The neighborhood is a good neighborhood with people trying to improve their homes and (we) just want it to look good and be a nice area," Dunn said.

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