Midtown house that burned down home to squatter, neighbors say

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A house burned down Monday morning in Midtown, and neighbors think they know the cause.

People living in the Midtown neighborhood said a man was squatting in the house that burned down on Clark Place.

“There has been like a homeless guy kind of like squatting there or whatever,” Vijay Thomas said.

Monday’s fire caused almost $94,000 in damage as the flames scorched everything in their path.

“The telephone pole lines were catching on fire; the trees were catching on fire,” neighbor Jay Beene said. “They got it out just in time.”

Firefighters said no one was inside the home at the time of the fire. Neighbors said they saw the squatter being led away from the premises Sunday by police.

They said they’ve been complaining about his presence for weeks.

“The concern arises when you know that there’s homeless people moving into these houses, you know,” Beene said. “We don’t know what they’re doing. We don’t know if they’re stealing property from the house, you know. We really don’t want that in our neighborhoods.”

Others said the squatting hasn’t bothered them.

“You would just see him, like, randomly every once in a while pushing a basket in this area, you know, so I really didn’t think anything of it,” Thomas said.

Although the fire department hasn’t yet determined the cause of the fire, there’s growing speculation among neighbors that the squatter could have played a role.

“Somebody said they saw smoke coming out of the chimney a few days ago, so apparently he was trying to keep warm,” Beene said.

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