There seems to be a bit of controversy surrounding fire and the immediate demolition of the Luben Apartments.
At first, one would assume that this fire was not unlike other house fires in the neighborhood. Perhaps a squatter started a fire inside to keep warm, fell asleep and a stray ember ignited a floorboard? There has been talk of two people living in the back of the building for the past few weeks, which is where the blaze appears to have started, so that theory sounds plausible.
However, I heard another rumor on the scene today. Supposedly, the building was purchased recently with the intention of rehabilitating it but the owner went bankrupt.
The speed and manor in which the building was leveled is what is raising the most questions. The demolition team was already on the scene before the fire department had even left. Despite vigorous protests by neighborhood residents, the fire department insisted that the building had to be taken down to protect arson investigators that would return at a later date.
Armed police were on the scene while neighbors shouted at the demolition company. Dust supression was not used to prevent asbestos and other particles from becoming airborne. Apparently this job had to be done fast! Only the front of the building was ordered to be demolished. The facade was the only architecturally interesting feature of the building. Naturally, being seen as the only justification for saving the building, that was the first section to be toppled. The rear of the building remains standing and the rubble is still burning.
Was this an unfortunate accident, an insurance claim, or some sort of land clearance?