Bowdoin Street house was ordered condemned in 2015

Courtesy: Providence Fire Dept.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Bowdoin Street home that burned to the ground over the weekend was ordered condemned by the city in 2015, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

According to land records at Providence City Hall, the Department of Inspection and Standards issued a “notice of condemnation” on May 5, 2015, stating that the property had been deemed “unfit for continued occupancy.”

“You are hereby ordered to vacate the premises within 10 days and secure the property from trespass,” the notice reads. “This dwelling shall not be reoccupied until the property is brought into compliance with the Minimum Housing Standards of the City of Providence and written approval for occupancy is secured from the Director of Inspection and Standards.”

Jeffrey Lykins, head of the Department of Inspection and Standards, said in an interview Tuesday that the city condemned the building because it was missing “basic utilities to sustain life,” including heat, electricity and water.

According to documents provided by the city, two months after the condemnation notice was issued an inspector signed off on the fact that those issues had been rectified. Lykins said he was unsure if people were ordered out of the building before the repairs were made.

The home at 110 Bowdoin St. caught fire early Saturday morning, and the blaze quickly spread to surrounding buildings. A body was removed from the rubble on Monday, but the identify of the person has not been officially identified by medical examiners. Family members say the deceased is 49-year-old Lucy Feliciano.

As Target 12 previously reported, a city building official recommended the house be condemned after inspecting it just three days before the blaze. In a report, inspector Bill Monaco said he found the homeowner was running a boarding house and it was “a mess.”

“Occupants were running space heaters, numerous propane torches throughout dwelling, debris on every floor including basement, open electrical panel in basement,” Monaco wrote.

The 2015 condemnation notice first came to light in a lawsuit being brought against the homeowner, Dexter Jackson, by Rhode Island Housing.

Rhode Island Housing assisted Jackson when the city placed a tax lien on the property in 2011 for back taxes, according to Christine Hunsinger, the agency’s assistant deputy director of policy, research and data.

“We bought the tax liens on the property to help the owner redeem himself,” Hunsinger said.

But in July, Rhode Island Housing filed suit against Jackson to foreclose on the property because “no redemption had been made,” according to court filings.

A title examination ordered by the courts revealed the previous condemnation notice and stated the property was more than $4,000 behind in property taxes.

Target 12 reached Jackson by phone on Tuesday, and asked about the 2015 condemnation notice.

“What does that have to do with the fire?” he asked.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Steph Machado contributed to this report.