Fire destroys northeast Austin home

Published 6:41 am Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A northeast Austin home set for foreclosure was destroyed by a fire Monday.

No one was believed to be home during the blaze, and no injuries were reported.

Smoke coming from 1008 Seventh Ave. NE was spotted by an Austin police officer on routine patrol at around 5:45 a.m. He called for the fire department, and 13 firefighters responded, chief Dan Wilson said. It took a few hours to extinguish the flames, he added.

The house belonged to Sharon Watkins, 59.

A neighbor who was present during the fire said Watkins had recently moved out of the home to a residence a few blocks away. The neighbor also said someone had been in the house the night before the fire until about midnight, according to a police report.

A police officer met with Watkins at her new home. She said she had slowly been moving her belongings out of the old house, which went into foreclosure because of some missed payments.

Watkins, who noted that she has homeowners insurance, said the furnace in the old house had not been working for about a year, though she had noticed that it recently began working again.

She said a former neighbor, Abraham Hernandez, 38, was in the house the night before the fire moving her washer and dryer out of the basement. He returned her house key at around 10 p.m., the report states.

Hernandez told police he moved the appliances at around 9 p.m. He said he was inside for about 15 minutes and noticed the house was cold and did not appear to be heated.

Chief Wilson said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.