Newport home a safety concern

It’s been three years since the two-story wood frame home caught fire at 25 Dana’s Run Road in Newport, but the house is still standing, one side of the charred front porch roof sagging from a broken support post.

Owners of neighboring properties say the heavily-damaged house is a safety hazard and an eyesore, and it’s sinking their property values.

“I recently received a call from Betty and Dale Poynter, both in their 80s, who live directly across the street from the house-they’re desperate to find someone to help them get it torn down,” said Newport Township Trustee Randy Jackson.

He said the Poynters and another neighbor, Arlene Satterfield, whose property is next door to the burned-out house, are tired of waiting for something to be done with the structure.

“I don’t live in this neighborhood, but as a trustee I feel responsible to speak up for these people and help them find a solution to this problem,” Jackson said.

Betty Poynter, 84, recalled the night the fire occurred early one morning in July, 2011.

“Around 2 a.m. I heard a noise and thought someone was at the front door,” she said. “Then I heard a big explosion. When I looked out the window the house across the street was already in flames.”

Her husband, Dale, also 84, called the fire department who arrived within minutes.

The home’s owners, Scott and Crystal O’Grady, and their children, were not injured in the blaze, according to Satterfield.

According to a Marietta Times report filed the day after the blaze, Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said Scott O’Grady and a cousin were inside when the fire started, but were able to get out of the house without injury.

No one has lived in the home since the fire, but Jackson said he’s concerned that children or some curious individuals could be placed at risk if they get near the house, especially the front porch area which appears to be falling in.

He said the property is currently going through foreclosure proceedings in Washington County Common Pleas Court, which has made it difficult to have anything done with the house.

“We’re not interested in any legal issues or what happened three years ago, we’re interested in having something done now. Three years is a long time,” Jackson said. “The township could not afford to have it torn down, but one option I would like to see is if the property could be condemned or cleared through the court and allow our volunteer fire department to burn it down as a training exercise.”

He added that there’s no ill will toward the property owner or anyone else.

“We just want to find a way to get this done,” Jackson said.

Betty Poynter agreed.

“After the fire our first thoughts were that no one was injured or any life lost,” she said. “What a blessing no one was in the home at the time. But since that time, after three years, we notified Randy about our safety concerns and the physical appearance of the burned out property.”

She said the community also suffers a loss of property value to their homes due to the situation.

“We just hope this problem can be settled for the benefit of all concerned,” Poynter said.

Jackson said the county commissioners, health department, and sheriff’s office have been contacted about the home in the past, but nothing has been done. The Washington County Building Permits Office said Thursday the office has no jurisdiction over properties located within the township, and any action would have to be taken by the township trustees.