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Thu., Oct. 8
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Vacant house collapses on Water Street


April M. Melvin was startled when she heard a loud bang outside Wednesday morning near her house on Water Street.

When she went to investigate, she discovered the noise was a neighbor’s long-time vacant house collapsed.

“It just finally collapsed,” she said about the tiny house that had not been lived in for about 20 years at 549 Water St. and had gaping holes in its roof.

To be safe, a neighbor called 911 to report it.

Police and firefighters were called to the scene shortly before noon to find a mangled, wooden mass of debris. No one was inside and there were no reported injuries.

Owner Vernal Seymour, who neighbors last heard was living in Theresa with his daughter, could not be reached for comment.

Walls and the crumbling roof came tumbling down, almost reaching the sidewalk. A back section of the house, hidden by a series of trees, ended up tilting on a 45-degree angle and looked like it could give way.

“That tree is holding up the rest of it,” Miss Melvin said.

For years, the property had been a neighborhood eyesore, residents said.

The city’s code enforcement office was at the scene, looking at how to deal with the mess.

After checking for asbestos, the city will hire a contractor to tear down the rest of the house and haul the debris away, Code Enforcement Supervisor Shawn R. McWayne said. The owner will be billed, he said.

His office has had Mr. Seymour “in and out of court for years” about the property, but the owner didn’t have any money to do something about it, he said.

The property is assessed at $18,200.

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