Neighbors want McHenry property cleaned up after March fire claimed life of girl

McHENRY – More than two months after a fire destroyed a McHenry home and took the life of a 12-year-old girl, the property’s charred remains have yet to be demolished from the Lakeland Park subdivision.

Neighbors on the 4500 block of Parkway Avenue, ready to move on from that tragic March 8 fire, are provided with a constant reminder of that night every time they pull in the driveway, take out the garbage or pick up their mail. And the house at 4510 Parkway Ave. may remain in that state for several more months, according to the bank that owns the home.

“Stuff has been blowing in our yard,” said Christine Haynes, who lives next door to the burned home. Haynes said her two children, ages 6 and 3, were close friends with Dayana Garcia, the girl who died in the fire.

“[My kids] can’t even play outside without seeing her stuff, or even get the mail or go to the ice cream truck without seeing her shoes in the yard,” Haynes said. “Let my daughter finally grieve over the loss of her friend.”

Haynes and her husband have called the city of McHenry and have yet to receive an answer as to why the property has yet to be cleaned up.

“It’s been kind of a jumbled mess,” admitted McHenry Code Compliance Inspector Jean Headley.

Headley said the demolition process has taken an especially long time because the home was in the process of foreclosure prior to the fire. The city has been waiting on Bank of America to take possession of the house, which occurred April 22. It is then up to the bank to initiate the demolition process, Headley said.

The city of McHenry took Bank of America to administrative adjudication court May 9 to prove that it had ownership of the property and was moving toward demolishing the charred residence, Headley said.

Headley was under the impression Thursday that Bank of America had a signed agreement with a property management company to demolish and clean up the residence “this week.”

However, Bank of America Spokeswoman Diane Wagner said Friday that nothing is expected to be done to the home prior to the bank’s next court date in July. Headley did not immediately return phone calls Friday afternoon.

Haynes said when it rains the home smells like it’s burning all over again. Gusts of wind blow debris across the street, and there is a constant smell of gasoline.

“We are still really close with the family,” Haynes said. “I get [Dayana’s brothers] once a week so the girls can play with them. For them to play here, we have to keep them inside and blinds closed.”

Greg Rolewski, who lives directly across the street and sees the burnt home every time he opens his blinds or walks out the front door, said he wished it would get resolved.

“It’s an eyesore that keeps bringing back bad memories,” he said.

Headley said that in a “normal situation” the cleanup process takes approximately one week. A call to the family of Dayana Garcia was not immediately returned Friday.

“We didn’t mean to do this to the neighbors,” Headley said.

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