HAMMOND | An emergency demolition order was issued Thursday for an empty East Hammond house that neighbors claim is the nexus of an expanding cockroach infestation.
Residents of the 900 block of Eaton Street sought assistance from the Board of Public Works and Safety last week in combating the insect invasion, which they said was spreading to adjacent streets in all directions.
Before the 91-year-old building can be torn down, the roaches must first be killed, said Kelly Kearney, code enforcement commissioner, or they would immediately occupy neighboring properties.
"Everything in there is infested," Kearney said. "There's a massive, massive amount of roaches."
Residents said the insects first appeared in June after the owner and a tenant moved out, leaving behind mounds of debris and a dead dog in the basement.
Pest control professionals estimated at one to three weeks could be needed to exterminate all the roaches, Building Commissioner Kurt Koch said.
A initial offer of $9,800 for remediation and demolition has been received by the city's Building, Code Enforcement and Zoning Department, Koch said, but competitive individual bids for the separate components of the work were being sought.
Owner Carl Harris told the works board Thursday he would like to get his property back but doesn't have the money to catch up with his mortgage on the house, which has been in foreclosure since 2008.
Harris was cited for violations of city health and safety codes at the site, with a hearing date was set for Wednesday in Hammond City Court.
Inspectors with the Lake County Health Department visited the property this week, City Attorney Kris Kantar said, and have notified state officials of the situation.
The works board issued a notice to proceed with the demolition to JM Wrecking of Hammond — currently the sole bidder — "contingent on the recommendations of extermination experts regarding necessary remediation for the protection of neighboring properties."