It just became a drug house’: Neighbors say abandoned house served as drug-selling point

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused a fire at home in Orlando.

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It happened early Sunday morning, on 24th Street, near Westmoreland Drive, about eight fire engines and 20 firefighters worked for about two hours to contain the blaze.

The home was initially believed to be abandoned but according to neighbors, there were people living in there.

“I see people over here walking. They had people living here before,” said one neighbor who preferred to remain anonymous. “I see about 3 or 4 people there every day.”

Read: Fire engulfs abandoned home in Orlando

Neighbors also say the place was also used a drug-selling point and did not seem surprised that the fire could have been intentional.

“It just became a drug house,” said William Andrews, who lives right across the street from the burned-down home. “I know that the owner had moved and relocated somewhere and left the property there. His children had lived there for a while, then his children left too. And then it just sat. Then the next thing you know, squatter showed up one day.”

Andrews said the home was bought not long ago, and the new owner tried to get rid of the alleged squatters, but with no success.

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“The person that purchased the property came through with the sheriff’s department, and three or four squad cars out there,” he said. “But they settled in. It was their house. They would use the yard, wash cars, as if the house belonged to them.”

Documents Channel 9 obtained from the Orange County Neighborhood Services showed the structure is condemned, and “is unfit for human occupancy.”

Jason Josephs, who’s lived in the same area for more than 10 years, says he’s spoken with the alleged squatters.

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“There was an older guy, maybe his sister, and maybe his brother, 4 children, and 2 pit bulls,” he said. “One day I went out the store. I stepped out, the dogs see me, they run right up to my door. The man said to me “why are you hitting my dogs?” I’m like “your dogs bit me.” I show the hotspot on my foot where they bit through my jeans. I said I was going to call animal control, and he basically begged me not to call animal control.”

Neighbors who have any information that could help investigators understand what happened here, are urged to contact police.

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