So... The house next door is a rental with a slum lord style landlord. It's sat empty and rotting for three years now. The slum lord only comes by once a month in the summer to mow the lawn (yes, that's it), but with the drought this year scorching the lawn he hasn't come by much at all.
Yesterday, Dave went to the store and on his way back he noticed the house's front door was open, as well as the door on the side. He called the Sheriff and it turns out that someone had stripped the copper piping from the basement. This neighborhood is heated by fuel oil, and most homes have a 250-500 gallon tank in the basement. Apparently the thieves ruptured the tank, leaving six inches of standing oil.
The sheriffs called the fire department, and three cruisers, a fire truck, a squad and a haz-mat crew were in front of the house for a few hours while they pumped all the fuel out. The opened the basement windows, so every time the wind changes there is now a very strong smell in the air, and the whole place is yellow-taped off like a crime scene.
Interestingly, an officer tried to serve a warrant last week and asked us who lived there. I don't know if it was for the previous occupant or the slum lord.
With all of the dried leaves and scorched lawn, it would have taken little more than a carelessly flicked cigarette butt from the sidewalk to set the place off. That hole is only about seven or eight feet from us, being on the side without the driveway.
I hope to God they make that bastard land lord demolish the whole place. Ugh.