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Clean-up of charred Langley home begins

Ben Watanabe / The Record Dustin Haul wrenches a charred and broken beam from the debris pile at the ruin of 460 Anthes Avenue on Tuesday. He was there with Thermatech Northwest, a Lakewood-based cleanup and abatement company tasked with cleaning the burned-down Langley.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Ben Watanabe / The Record Dustin Haul wrenches a charred and broken beam from the debris pile at the ruin of 460 Anthes Avenue on Tuesday. He was there with Thermatech Northwest, a Lakewood-based cleanup and abatement company tasked with cleaning the burned-down Langley.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Charred beams, singed and soggy pages and twisted metal are all that remain of the home at 460 Anthes Avenue in Langley.

Soon, even that will be gone.

Demolition began this week on the burned down home, a duplex in Langley, nearly four months after a fire in the garage ravaged the house and forced South Whidbey firefighters to knock down the roof to keep the blaze from spreading.

“It’s nice to see it getting going now,” said Mayor Fred McCarthy, who fielded at least one public comment about the ruins in a recent city council meeting.

Homeowner Maralie Johnson and the home’s occupants, including pets, were unharmed in the fire.

On Tuesday, Thermatech Northwest foreman Mike Guiley said the debris should be cleared in about two weeks. One snag to clearing it faster, he said, was the confined area with which he has to work. The dimensions of the work space precluded bringing in a larger excavator to grab massive heaps of wood, metal and siding.

“I would love to bring in an excavator,” Guiley said.

Instead, he was limited to a small loader to scoop up debris. But that was limited early in the project after it broke down, leaving the four-man crew to grab beams, plywood and metal sheets by hand and throw them into a dump truck. Even that was smaller than Guiley would like to use, and he estimated about 10 loads would be removed from the property.

At least one Langley resident officially complained to city council about the charred and derelict structure sitting un-demolished for more than two months. Kirk Lacewell called the burned-down home an “eyesore” and a hazard at the city council’s July 15 meeting.

While cleanup finally started this week, the entire process of tearing down the framing was not set. Guiley said he was only contracted for asbestos abatement and debris clearing. He did not know when the home’s frame would be torn down.

Langley Planning Director Jeff Arango said the city had not received any building permits for the lot as of Sept. 17. However, he and McCarthy heard Johnson planned to build a new home there.

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