A Belleville man who attempted to save his house by posting a video on YouTube could see it demolished as early as next week.
John Foutch, of 466 N. 88th Street, Belleville, posted the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkgCQ3l4GN0&feature=youtube) on Feb. 26 pleading for help. A representative from the Belleville city attorney's office informed Foutch on Feb. 14 that his home would be demolished within three weeks because he had failed to make it inhabitable after a fire on Nov. 12, 2011.
Foutch said he was surprised that the city planned to demolish the structure. After his last conversation with Building Commissioner Paul Baumen, Foutch thought he had more time to repair the house.
"He told me when I'm ready to get my permit, to come and get it," Foutch said.
Robert Sabo, director of Health, Housing, Building and Zoning, said representatives from the city had continuous correspondence with Foutch after the fire. However, after Foutch stopped corresponding, two certified letters were sent to the 88th Street address to inform Foutch that he needed to obtain a permit to begin rehabilitation of his house.
Foutch signed the first letter, Sabo said. The second letter was returned unsigned, prompting Bauman to contact Foutch directly on March 6, 2012. Bauman gave Foutch 30 additional days to get a permit.
Sabo said Foutch then stopped corresponding and did not get a permit. The case was turned over to the city attorney's office on April 23. The city attorney's office began the process of condemning the house.
Foutch acknowledged that he never applied for a rehabilitation permit. "I went down there to get the paper, but everything on that has changed," he said. "They were too complicated to fill out."
Since being served with the demolition notice, Foutch said he has been searching unsuccessfully for an attorney to take up a case against the city. Scott Simonin, the Boy Scout troop leader for Foutch's son, thinks a lack of money is contributing to Foutch's problems.
"Sometimes when you're poor, it's really, really hard to get anywhere," Simonin said.
Foutch and his wife, Rhonda, are both on disability.
The fire that destroyed the Foutch house also claimed the life of three dogs, a cat and several rabbits. Foutch said the Belleville Fire Department refused to save the animals.
Belleville Assistant Fire Chief J.P. Penet said the fire could not be extinguished from inside the house due to heat and obstacles.
"When we arrived, flames were shooting out of the building and there was smoke throughout," Penet said. "If given confirmation from the occupants that everyone has exited the building, we will extinguish the fire from the outside, until it is safe to send in our firefighters. At that time we will make every effort to save their home and pets."
The Foutches had no homeowners insurance at the time of the fire. They have been relying on donations and selling pit bull puppies to help them get money to rebuild.
Foutch said the Boy Scouts donated more than $1,000. Simonin said he has given Foutch more than $200 personally.
"I've never seen someone have as many problems as he has," Simonin said. "Sometimes when a person gets down, he just needs a little help"
Simonin said he wished Habitat for Humanity would come in and rebuild the house for the Foutches.
Foutch would not say where his family is living since the fire. The thought of leaving their home of 16 years is difficult for the Foutches, who never had a mortgage on the home. Lutheran Social Services, Foutch said, helped them buy the home.
"We found a house that the Lord led us to," Foutch said.
Foutch said he has been able to perform only minor repairs to the structure. He said he used 35 gallons of paint on the exterior of his home after the fire. The remaining materials he bought are still stored in the house.
After the house is demolished, a lien of more than $7,000 will be placed on the property, Sabo said. The amount represents demolition and attorney fees, as well as the cost of an asbestos report that was completed on the house.
The cost of a rehabilitation permit varies based on the size of the space being rehabilitated. A permit for 1,200 square feet costs $236.
Stutz Excavation will most likely demolish the house next week.
"I guess I'll be down there in a car waiting for them to come," Foutch said.