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by Troy Graham
An empty lot planted with grass and separated from the sidewalk by a thin yellow rope sits along Weston's Main Avenue. The open space, which abruptly breaks up a consistent row of neatly kept homes, is the site of the fatal November fire that took the lives of five children.
Most in the community were pleased when the owner of the lot, Charles Garton, tore down the charred remains of the house that once stood there. But the lot has remained empty, a conspicuous reminder for many of the tragic fire.
Garton, whose real estate and construction business is just a few doors down from the lot, said people in the community do ask him what he's going to do with the property, but he still isn't sure.
"We're builders and we'll probably build on it later on," he said. "We've got $24,000-$25,000 tied up in that."
Garton bought the property from Ricky Brown and his mother following the fire. Ricky and his wife, Barbara Brown, along with Janette Ables, have been charged with setting the blaze, which took the lives of five children. Garton said he bought the property before the three were arrested.
Garton then paid $8,500 to have the house demolished, he said.
Garton said he has had a few offers on the property and he has considered building apartments there, but he said he currently has "nothing in mind."
Garton also said he has not determined an asking price for the land.
Some residents have talked about putting a monument to the children on the lot.
"I'd be happy to sell it to anybody who wants to put a monument there," Garton said.
But Garton doesn't think the lot is a particular reminder of the fire, which has aroused anger throughout the community.
"It's not anymore of a reminder than all of Weston is of that episode," he said.
Killed in the fire were Barbara Brown's three children, Seronica Castner, 10, Kimberly Castner, 9, and Brandon Castner, 8, along with Ables' two children, Rayshell, 5, and Jimmy, 3. Ricky Brown was stepfather of the Castner children.