ANTIOCH -- An abandoned house with a history of fires went up in flames again Thursday morning, authorities said.
However, the severity of the latest blaze, which sent a black plume into the sky that was visible for miles, forced the house to have to be bulldozed later in the day.
Nobody was inside the wooden, one-story structure in the 100 block of Merrill Drive in north Antioch when it caught fire at 10:09 a.m., Contra Costa Fire Protection District Capt. Kent Kirby said. Crews sounded a second alarm to fight the blaze, which they had under control within 90 minutes.
Antioch code enforcement officials boarded up the bank-owned house in early August, and there were no electrical outlets or gas services to the structure. Investigators have not determined how the fire started.
The house, located on a frontage road parallel to Wilbur Avenue in the Beede Park neighborhood, has been frequented by squatters over the years, said Norman Leba, whose house is next door.
Leba said he grabbed his garden hose to fight the blaze until firefighters arrived; nobody has lived in the home for at least five years, he added.
Other neighbors said they have witnessed vagrants going in and out of the house, while trash and debris often piles up in the yards.
During that time, fire crews have been called to the house more than once, Kirby said.
While assessing the damage after the Thursday's blaze was extinguished, officials determined the house had to be bulldozed for safety reasons. A chimney remained standing, but had nothing supporting it, and there were many partial walls left standing, said Ryan Graham, Antioch's code enforcement officer.
The bank that owns the property will have to clean up the remaining pile of debris, Graham said.