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Keeping transients out of vacant property
BEAUMONT - by Jennifer Gordy
A sign on the marquee in front of the abandoned burned out former Ridgewood Retirement Hotel reads "Under new management. Move in." It appears some transients 'accepted the invitation.'
Restaurant owner, Alaa Shalabi, says, "They stay in that building. They broke the doors and windows and they sleep inside."
Insurance agent, James Bateaste, adds, "Because vagrants or whatever we gonna call them. They gonna try and find shelter."
Construction business owner, Jim Shell, says the location of the hotel would attract more vagrants than other areas of town, "The proximity to the salvation army where they get a lot of their meals from is a drawing card for the proximity to this building specifically here."
Ultimately, it's the owner's responsibility to secure his property. Beaumont Fire Captain Earl White tells KFDM News, "Because we don't want anyone going in, you know, it's a haven for illegal things going on and if we do have a fire it puts our firefighters at risk of injury and even death."
At one point., almost 50 firefighters were battling the flames Saturday night. Spending hours on a fire that didn't have to happen. White says, "The biggest thing the property owner can do is repair the windows, put up a sheet of plywood. The key to this is making sure you check your property." To help make sure the property doesn't end up like the Ridgewood.