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Burning Down the House

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Firefighters last Friday torched the vacant house at 280 N. Winooski Ave. in Burlington in a daylong controlled burn. Landlord Clark W. Hinsdale II bought the property in 1984, but it had been vacant for two decades before Laurie Smith acquired it in a land trade with Hinsdale in November. Smith owns the building next door, at 274 N. Winooski Ave.

Local business owners had complained about the dilapidated property for years. Last August Paula Haskell, whose Greener Pastures thrift store then occupied Smith's storefront, told Seven Days that the building was a chronic nuisance. "Every morning when I drive in, I'm picking up broken bottles, syringes," she said. "God knows what's going on in that house."

The Burlington Code Enforcement Office forced Hinsdale to pay $5000 in vacant-building fines before the sale. When the firefighters finished, all that was left of the two-story house was a smoldering pit of rubble.

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