One Year Since Huge Palm Beach Fire - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

One Year Since Huge Palm Beach Fire

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By Al Pefley email

Palm Beach, FL (WFLX)

Today marks exactly one year since fire gutted a 1920's era house in Palm Beach, leaving one man dead.

The fire broke out  May 5,  2008,  and when firefighters arrived flames were shooting through the roof of the two-story mansion at 416 Brazilian Avenue.

The homeowner says the fire destroyed up to $8 million worth of artwork and paintings, all of it uninsured.  He says the home was worth $3-4 million.   It is still standing, but is nothing more than a charred shell.

Officials think the fire was caused by an electrical short in a wall outlet.

The blaze killed 65 year old James Haymen, a roommate of the owner.  Now one year later, the homeowner says he's not the type of person to feel sad about all that he lost. 

"You just don't get sad about anything. You're delighted you're here. The best thing is, be happy everyday," Barker said.   Barker says he intended to restore the house but has been unable to get a bank loan for the restoration project.  

The  town of Palm Beach has condemned the house and has given Barker 30 days to demolish it.   A town building official says the home is unsafe, and poses a danger to neighbors due to flying debris in the event of a hurricane.  If Barker does not demolish it, the town will hire a contractor and have it torn down.      

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