City of Midland doing everything possible to close abandoned buildings

City of Midland doing everything possible to close abandoned buildings

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - After 16-year-old John Butler died this weekend, the City of Midland is saying it has done all it can do and has continued to warn residents of the dangers inside abandoned buildings.

"This building is vacant and it was in the process of asbestos remediation and interior demolition to make it to where it could become a future project, it was going to be known as Hotel Fuel," said City Building Manager Steve Thorpe.

The Western United Life building is owned by a man who lives in California.

The City of Midland said he has done everything he can to keep people out.

"The city is here to enforce codes," said Thorpe. "Our goals are to gain compliance for what the problems are. Whether it's an open building or tall grass or junk vehicles. So our process is we notify the owners and give them a reasonable amount of time to do it."

Thorpe says the bars on the first floor window were put there by the owner this spring, but it's clear someone broke a bar off this window to get in.

But after you get through the window, there's more than just broken glass lying around.

"Abandoned buildings are unsafe, there's health hazards," said Thorpe. "Most of the buildings downtown have asbestos in it. This building has undergone partial remediation work, there's piles of debris inside it. That debris is laden with asbestos and asbestos becomes airborne."

Thorpe said he isn't surprised kids are breaking into unused or abandoned buildings, but is hoping that the teenagers and parents realize how dangerous this is and stay out from now on.

"I hope it is, but I seriously doubt it," said Thorpe. "I just wish that they would think a little bit and if parents know that their kids are doing this, tell them that it's not safe."

Thorpe said that he and his team personally closed both openings to the building on Monday afternoon.

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