ST. LOUIS — A squatter reportedly started a fire at a south St. Louis home where a woman jumped out a window to escape the flames Wednesday morning.

A neighbor’s security camera caught someone dressed in all black entering a vacant home on Nebraska Avenue just after 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to the video. Less than a minute later, smoke started billowing out of the house.

“It’s our understanding that this building has been vacant since 2007. Yet there was someone inside, which brings me to another point of why we go into vacant buildings because these fires don’t start from themselves,” said St. Louis Fire Department Captain Garon Mosby.

The woman inside jumped from the second floor. When fire crews arrived they said she was waiting on the neighbor’s steps with hurt ankles and was taken to the hospital in stable condition.

Neighbors wanted to remain anonymous but said they suspected squatters were inside. They said they have never seen them come and go, and they typically fly under the radar.

An unexpected resident wasn’t the only challenge for fire crews. 

“There are hoarding conditions in this building, waist-and-higher throughout,” Mosby said.

Just a few doors down on the same street there’s another boarded-up house. In the back, it’s a dollhouse with a torn-down exterior, and you can see directly inside. 

“Look at that. That is ridiculous,” a neighbor said. “The house is tore-up. I’ve only been here a year and a half. I’d like to move.”

Some residents question what’s being done to get rid of what they call eyesores and worry the latest burned building on the street will end like this.

“It’s dangerous for the homeless, for you and I, and for all the firefighters and police that have to go there,” the neighbor said.

According to Mosby, there are approximately 10,000 vacant buildings in St. Louis. About 40% of the fires that St. Louis fire departments battle are inside vacant buildings. 

“It’s back and forth about why do you go into vacant buildings. Well, because people live in these buildings,” Mosby said. “We signed up to save lives and preserve property in that order. It doesn’t matter who is in there or why they are in there, we are coming to get you.”

The homeowner was not living inside this home, but she declined to do an interview. According to the city of St. Louis website, an inspection was done at the home in 2014 and the owner was given a violation. 

“Upon inspection of this property, one or more violations of city property maintenance codes were discovered,” according to the city. “The owner of the property has been issued a notice of violation of these codes and has been given a deadline to bring the property into compliance.”