Are some Lexington homes too close for comfort?

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Are their homes too close for comfort? Some people living in a Lexington neighborhood are raising that question after a fire damaged multiple homes.

The fire broke out Wednesday afternoon on White Wood Flat in the Masterson Station neighborhood. In Lexington, some homes can be built as little as six feet apart, but does that create a danger in case of fire? WKYT talked to a building inspector to find out.

Neighbors watched as a fire claimed one home, damaging two others on White Wood Flat. Now more than the news of this fire is circling the neighborhood.

"I think one house catches on fire, and they're this close, you can have two or three up within 20 to 30 minutes, so it's dangerous," said Tony Orso, who is a concerned neighbor, living across the street from the now burned home.

Orso says he and his family of three have lived in the neighborhood for one year now. And he tells us that the proximity of the homes has always been a worry.

"You can pretty much stretch your arms out, at least a person like me can, and pretty much touch the house next to you," said Orso.

With multiple homes affected by one fire, Orso says he's been talking with his neighbors about the concern and sees this as an opportunity to speak out about zoning issues where he lives.

Since some people in that neighborhood think the homes are built too close together, we are asking, 'What are the rules?' We talked to a building inspector to get some answers.

First of all, most homes along White Wood Flat belong to a zoning plan that allows three-foot side yards for each home, meaning there's six feet between the houses. It seems close, but it's up to code.

"Reduced side yards don't go without some sort of checks and balances and basically that's where the building code takes over," said Alex Olszowy, the building inspection supervisor of residential homes in Lexington.

The houses on this street do not have fire rated walls and didn't require them when they were built before 2006. That's because before 2006, homes with side yards under three feet required fire rated walls. The homes on White Wood Flat have side yards right at three feet, so they met the requirement back then. Now the Kentucky law says side yards under five feet must have them.

Both fire officials and this building inspector say what happened Wednesday is very rare but still unfortunate.

"I'd say this is the second or third time in the 16 and a half years that I've been here where a fire has actually got to the next building," said Olszowy.

"It puts it in clear perspective that it can happen at any time," said Orso.

We are told that six feet apart is the closest residential homes can be built in Lexington.

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