Burned-out houses will be razed by Texas Guard

HARLINGEN — Three connected residences which burned on East Monroe Avenue a year ago are finally going to be demolished, city officials said yesterday.

The residences at 603 E. Monroe burned in July of last year, and while no one was injured in the blaze, the gutted wood-framed houses have since been uninhabitable.

“I’m happy to say those three homes are on the list for Operation Crackdown, and they’re scheduled to be demolished on Tuesday of next week,” City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday.

“That’s going to be done through our partnership with the National Guard, which has been a great partnership for the City of Harlingen,” he added.

Operation Crackdown is a Texas National Guard program which provides Guard engineers to communities to demolish structures which may be used by gangs with ties to drug distribution.

More than a thousand such homes or apartment buildings in more than two dozen Texas communities have been razed by the Guard since the program began.

Ellie Barbee owns property in the 600 block of Monroe Avenue, and she said she’s concerned about having a burned-out husk of a home across the street from a property she is trying to rent.

“It doesn’t help, it doesn’t help at all,” she said yesterday.

“Usually the city does something when it burns down and they take care of it right away,” she said. “It’s been like that for months.”

The city’s partnership with the National Guard has resulted in several unsafe structures being demolished here. Funding for the program comes from drug seizures and houses are demolished by the Guard at no cost to the city.

“Through that partnership, we have removed structures that could become gang havens or graffiti targets,” Serna said.