A vacant Watertown house has collapsed on Water Street.

City Code Enforcement officials say the property has been on their radar for years.

It happened at 549 Water Street at 11:30 a.m.

"I just heard a big bang," said neighbor April Melvin.

Watertown firefighters were called to the scene.

According to city property records, the two-story house is owned by Vernal and T. Seymour of Theresa.

Code officials said they have been warning Vern Seymour about the unsafe condition of the home for three years.

"It's been a vacant building for quite a few years. We've dealt with the owner, trying to get it straightened out," said City Code Supervisor Shawn McWayne.

Most recently, the city took Seymour to court over code violations last fall.

Officials said he pleaded guilty, paid a $30 court fee and agreed to remove an oxygen tank and a tank containing acetylene.

Officials said the property is now being treated as contaminated; no one is being allowed to sample it for asbestos and other dangerous materials because the house could collapse further.

A private contractor has been called in to clean up the property.

Officials expected the site will be cleaned up by Friday.

The cost of cleanup is expected to be between $30,000 and $40,000.

Officials said Seymour will get the bill.

According to city property records, the home was built in 1880.

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