A fire impacting 10 properties on the 500 block of N. Plum St. was extinguished Monday night. An investigation into the cause of the fire is currently underway. Eight of those homes were previously condemned and deemed unfit for human habitation and occupancy. The remaining two homes were occupied at the time of the fire and two households were displaced and are being assisted to find new housing.
The City of Lancaster’s chief building code official is working with an engineering firm today to evaluate the structures and determine next steps.
The eight condemned properties were all privately owned and were condemned at three different points: 527 was condemned in 2017 and was under construction but had not been completed when adjacent properties, 523, 525, 529, 531, 533, and 535, were condemned in August of 2019 due to structural issues caused by a geological anomaly. 521 was condemned in August of 2019 due to raw sewage discharge into the rear and side yards of the property, not due to geological anomalies. Securing and fencing of the properties was completed in 2019 by the City and maintained over time.
In September 2019, the City conducted a structural condition assessment of the buildings, and a microgravity survey and radar scan of the area to determine subsurface geological problems. Private owners of the properties have also commissioned their own studies of the cause of the geological anomalies.
The geological anomaly spans across several private properties. In 2019, the City facilitated meetings to connect the property owners, to provide a forum for the property owners to develop a collective solution for the anomaly.
Since that time, owners of several of the properties have been working on plans to remedy the issues. The City of Lancaster and the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Lancaster (RACL) have been monitoring progress. Due to the complexity of the problem, the expense of potential solutions, and the number of private owners needed to work together toward a resolution, the process has been long and complicated. The City agreed to allow the owners to continue to work toward a solution.
When the fire investigation and structural evaluation are complete, the city will determine an immediate course of action.