Firefighters find body in abandoned Brandywine condo that caught fire

Firefighters find body in abandoned Brandywine condo that caught fire

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Detectives with the Baton Rouge Fire Department are investigating a fatal fire at an abandoned condo early Thursday morning.

BRFD reported that the fire happened at the old Brandywine Condominiums on Darryl Drive just before 2:30 a.m.

Curt Monte with BRFD said firefighters were called out to what they believed was a vacant condo.

While firefighters were conducting an initial search of the scene, they discovered the body of 38-year-old Joshua Ravencraft.

According to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office, Ravencraft died of smoke inhalation and his death is being classified as accidental.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Several buildings at the condominium complex have been boarded up.

Years ago, a majority of the renters left the property for other housing options. The complex has had issues with water and utility bills going unpaid and several people owning units and most of those owners live out of state. Garbage is littered around the property and piled up in the dumpsters and grass is overgrown.

Currently only about 20 people live in units at the complex.

"We've had it on the council agenda. I deferred it for a couple weeks about a month or so, just to see where we could go with it. Even if we condemn them, there's not enough money in the city budget to tear them down," said Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis.

She said it would take the city's condemnation budget for two or three years to be able to demolish all the buildings and have the property cleared of all the debris.

There is another option on the table. Lewis hopes by mid-February that someone will own the majority of the Brandywine units. At next week's council meeting, she will introduce a plan to revitalize the area.

She said a local attorney has possession of just under 100 of the units. The plan is to put them up for bid to try and get some renovations done and bring the property back.

"It'll probably take between $2 and 3 million to get it back to where it needs to be. It'll have to be a total gut rehab."

Some of the buildings may be done away with.

Until something permanent can be done, the councilwoman said she is hoping to get the city and some volunteers to clean up the property some.

Anyone with any information about the fire is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 225-344-7867.

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