Reporting Joel Thomas
FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - Fort Worth officials say the city has ceased all demolition operations until it can figure out how two buildings that were not supposed to be demolished were torn down by a contractor despite city oversight.
“It was human error,” said Fort Worth spokesperson Bill Begley. “There were two different types of human error.”
The city says the first mistake happened here Lagonda Avenue in north Fort Worth.
A contractor was supposed to knock down a fire damaged building. They tore it down, but they also knocked down a small living quarters behind the house.
“It was not supposed to be knocked down and it was not a part of demolition order,” Begley said.
The family who owns the property says the building was vacant but had clothes and family pictures stored in it.
The very next day July 12, on Watercress Drive, a second building was torn down that wasn’t supposed to be touched at all. In that case, city sources say a code officer misidentified the house to be demolished.
While the Watercress case came to the city’s attention within days, the Lagonda mistake only came to light when investigators began researching the Watercress incident. The city has halted all demolitions until it finds ways to prevent the errors from happening again.
“There is a common thread,” Begley said. “It was the same contractor with the same code supervisor in charge and the same code supervisor on site. That said, in both instances there were honest mistakes made. And that’s why we’re putting policies in place to ensure we have safe guards. At Lagonda the contractor took it a step too far, at Watercress we had a city staffer inappropriately mark the house. So in both instances there was a human error.”
The code compliance employee is on paid administrative leave during the investigation. The contractor did not respond to a request for a statement.
Begley said the city is working to “do what is right” for the property owners.