Fire rips through Clear Lake condo complex

December 13, 2010 2:48:04 PM PST
The battle over what to do with a condominium complex, which has sat abandoned ever since it was damaged by Hurricane Ike, took an unusual turn overnight after the complex was nearly destroyed by fire.

This is a legal mess that's been going on for two years after the storm. After the judge's ruling Monday, it's likely not over for homeowners pitted against each other. The judge ruled that no insurance money from Hurricane Ike will be spent on insuring or securing the property.

The ruling came on the same day the complex was nearly destroyed by a fire some are calling suspicious.

The fire was extensive, destroying two buildings and damaging two more. It was too much of a coincidence for homeowner Michelle Holmes.

"I think it's very suspicious. It just happened to be in the office where all the records were," she said.

Authorities say the fire at The Landing Condominiums on NASA Parkway at Kirby started just after midnight Monday. There were no injuries but the fire was massive. At its peak, more than 60 firefighters helped to contain and put out the blaze.

The Landing is on seven acres and is vacant. Electricity and gas were turned off after the property was damaged by Ike.

"It's very suspicious. We don't have any evidence of who did what yet, but there was no gas and no electric at the property," said Mitchell Kastine, a lawyer for the owners of the condominium.

Kastine represents 11 condo owners at The Landing. Homeowners say they want insurance money from Ike damage to be held in receivership, meaning they do not want insurance proceeds spent without their vote. The HOA representing over 100 other condo owners say it's time to either repair of demolish the property.

"There are 10 owners who believe that they know better than 110 owners what to do with the Landing. Ten owners have held up this entire project and we just simply need the judge to let the majority rule," said Michael West with The Landing's HOA.

A lawyer representing The Landing's HOA says the 11 condo owners have had more than one opportunity to vote on how the money will be spent. In the meantime, how the fire started remains a mystery.

"The fire is under investigation; as for what the cause is, it continues at this time; we do not know a cause," Seabrook Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ray Cook said.


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