1. #1
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    Default Ohio multi-fatality fire

    Just on our local news:

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- At least five people died and four others were missing after a fire destroyed a portion of an apartment complex early Sunday.

    Investigators said that the fire was likely an arson, NBC 4's Natalie Walston reported.

    The fire broke out at Lincoln Park Apartments, located in the 4500 block of Lynnwood Lane West, around 2:30 a.m. The complex was located in Lincoln Park, near Interstate 270 in west Columbus.

    Some of the tenants reportedly jumped out of windows to escape, Walston reported.

    Columbus fire investigators said that they believed an accelerant was used, based on the speed of how the fire spread.

    At least one person was transported to Mount Carmel West Hospital for treatment.

    The Franklin County coroner was dispatched to the scene.

    Out of the 24 units in the building, 12 of them were destroyed, Walston reported.
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    I believe the total is up to 8 now, and there have been a few other arson fires in this same complex recently.........

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    Total is now up to 10... all living in the same apartment...
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    Thumbs down Someone Needs To Be Accountable...............

    Arson is one thing. It IS a crime, and the perpetrator should be found, tried and hung. I am equally alarmed at the 10 or more people in a small apartment, however. We have laws here regarding occupancy, and landlord's agents make it painfully clear that the law is followed to the letter. 2 adults per bedroom is the limit. What can be done to stop overcrowding in rental properties?? As people continue to pack themselves in, the odds of a catastropic loss of life continue to rise. I'm sure this type of incident will continue to happen.
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    Default Re: Someone Needs To Be Accountable...............

    Originally posted by hwoods
    Arson is one thing. It IS a crime, and the perpetrator should be found, tried and hung. I am equally alarmed at the 10 or more people in a small apartment, however. We have laws here regarding occupancy, and landlord's agents make it painfully clear that the law is followed to the letter. 2 adults per bedroom is the limit. What can be done to stop overcrowding in rental properties?? As people continue to pack themselves in, the odds of a catastropic loss of life continue to rise. I'm sure this type of incident will continue to happen.
    Harve, I was as surprised as you were....... I was expecting to see that it was people from multiple apartments...... Not a bunch from a single apartment......

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    Want to stop the problem of overcrowded apartments?


    Ask the feds to enforce the immigration laws!

    Most of the "overcrowding" happens with illegal aliens or "undocumented workers" as the PC crowd want to say.
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    Gonzo nailed it. I helped work an investigation in a city near me that had something like 18 people living in a 3 bedroom house. All were illegals. There have been a couple of other cases with similar occupancy levels around here that I know of. Fire seems to be the "weapon" of choice of the Mexican illegals around here, I've noticed.

    Harve's right, too. I'm sure that Columbus has housing regs regarding this occupancy loads, but it's difficult to prove without entering the property. The illegals don't really care about having too many people in the apartment...that's the least of their legal worries. I'm not even sure if Columbus has an INS office. The person renting the property pleads ignorance to the situation, so he can't really be prosecuted. It's a problem, and is gonna continue to be until the problem is recognized and a mechanism put in place to deal with it.
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    Before we go Mexican bashing, let's remember that the Lincoln Park West apartment complex is the biggest in the US, east of the Mississippi, and there are an equal number of several other ethnicities in that complex, whom I'm sure are just as shady as everyone else. That whole complex is shady.

    And why aren't we looking at other things, like why one engine hit two seperate bad hydrants, or why the water supply back there was so atrocious that they couldn't get water flowing, or why a gas leak next door happened at the same time, or, or, or....?

    At least wait until the people who died are burried before hating on them...
    Last edited by DualReverse; 09-13-2004 at 07:09 AM.
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    I have worked a ton of invests. that involved what we call "stacking". There would be a group of people that worked days and slept nights, and another group who worked nights and slept days in the same beds. I have done fires with two sets of bunk beds in the kitchen, mattresses on the floor of the attic, etc. There are many ethnic groups aside from Mexicans that I ran across. The common deniminator among the residents is (and many of you will be surprised to hear me say this) is that they were taken advantage of by an unscrupulous landlord.

    These slumlords know that these people are there. What do you think when you have a one bedroom apartment putting six garabage cans to the curb and take up four parking spaces? It has also been my experience that they charge rents that are outrageous.

    I also found that there is blame to be laid at the feet of city housing inspectors. Very often, the FD would go into these homes on a smoke call, or an EMS run and find these conditions. They would report it and nothing would be done.

    I am not insinuating that this was the case in the Columbus fire, but in the big picture of "stakcing", these are my experiences.

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    I saw the channel 4 news Sunday morning and they said they couldnt understand why the fire spread so fast ..they were showing footage from a helicopter and you could see why...the fire wall that was between each unit only went ceiling high ..so it appears that they shared the same attic space....once it reached the attic it was gone...

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    go to NBC4I.COM for pictures

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    Firewally,

    Any clue if those hydrants were privately owned? I know one of the mutual aid engines hit at least two bad hydrants, then someone said that the hydrants they had couldn't support the residual pressure of ladder operations, etc...
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    Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that it is unconstitutional to enforce how many people can live in an occupancy, but here is the other thing people forgot about. Standard living area set up for 4-5 persons has a much smaller fire load than an area set up for 10 persons so think of the intense heat and fire these guys had to deal with. A reccommendation is preplan if you go somewhere on a service or ems call and see something like that make it a target hazard and put it into CAD if you have it.

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    from DualReverse: At least wait until the people who died are burried before hating on them...
    Not hating on anybody. Just a statement of my experience in similar areas. If you have a particular segment of a group that exhibits a propensity of trying to kill people by setting their dwelling on fire while they sleep, it's relevant...not hate.
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    Originally posted by TRUCK61
    Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that it is unconstitutional to enforce how many people can live in an occupancy, but here is the other thing people forgot about. Standard living area set up for 4-5 persons has a much smaller fire load than an area set up for 10 persons so think of the intense heat and fire these guys had to deal with. A reccommendation is preplan if you go somewhere on a service or ems call and see something like that make it a target hazard and put it into CAD if you have it.
    Unconstitutional? What?

    The only possible explanation I can think of to what you are talking about is that the gvernment cannot tell you how many people you can have in your family. But the government is certainly well within their rights to enforce safety and health codes. If a building is overcrowded, it is probably also unsanitary. If there are children involved, the government certnaly has the responsibility to protect those children from an unhealthy environment. If unrelated people are found to be living in a boarding home type arrangement, that is clearly illegal if it exceeds the normal occupancy load and/or the people are paying a landlord to live there.

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    Dualreverse
    Im not sure...after some further investigation at work it seems that water on Westport rd and Lynwood is owned by Franklin county..I work for a local utility that has service in the area and I researched dig requests for the area and found Franklin county repairing a water main in the area..so it looks like its not Columbus city water anyway...but as for the complex itself I'm not sure. I also heard the local media reporting the lack of working hydrants and wondered the same thing...as for some of the other posts does it really matter who it was or what color their skin is or where they came from or how many live in the home...you take the oath to serve and protect no matter what nationality and such so why is it even a topic to bring up...do you know for certain that they were all living there or were they visiting and sleeping over...no matter what this is a tragedy and there are human beings hurt because of this senseless act of terror...

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    Unhappy

    I remember seeing this a while ago on the Columbus Fire Department website, since it's still on there, I'm assuming it is still unsolved?

    http://fire.ci.columbus.oh.us/Docume...son_poster.pdf

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    as for some of the other posts does it really matter who it was or what color their skin is or where they came from or how many live in the home...you take the oath to serve and protect no matter what nationality and such so why is it even a topic to bring up
    Dude, what are you talking about? Who said anything about not prtoecting people becuase of their nationality? Who said anything about not fighting the fire if too many peole live in the home? I think you need to take a deep breath.

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that it is unconstitutional to enforce how many people can live in an occupancy
    Zoning ordinances do it all the time.

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    Originally posted by outoffocus
    I remember seeing this a while ago on the Columbus Fire Department website, since it's still on there, I'm assuming it is still unsolved?

    http://fire.ci.columbus.oh.us/Docume...son_poster.pdf
    Yes, unsolved. The Franklin County prosecutor quickly charged a man they felt responsible for this fire, but he was released due to a lack of evidence. Case remains unsolved. The property has been refurbed and is occupied at current. Quite eerie seeing people in that building.

    Steamer:
    Not sure if you've done work up here or have stayed in the Chillicothe area, but Lincoln Park West has many, many problems, with many, many ethnicities. I'll give way to your experience on investigations here, but I'd submit things in LPW are a bit different than in other areas...

    Firewally:
    I'd be interested to find out if that one hydrant they confiscated on camera is on the county or the apartment complex. During those two 3 alarm fires off Taylor Station in the spring, those hydrants turned out to be privately owned...Still waiting to find out if that company is gonna be held responsible for the apparatus damaged/destroyed as a result of bad hydrant maintnance...
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    Fire exposes tenant overcrowding
    By Eugene Mulero, Daily Record

    MORRISTOWN -- When Morristown firefighters responded to a fire at 1 Cutler St. Friday night, they found a mattress in a walk-in closet, and mattresses in the attic, evidently being used by tenants. They extinguished the blaze with no problem. But a further problem may have been revealed at the residence.

    After surveying the scene, the fire department reported seeing the extra mattresses in the house -- a typical sign of overcrowding, according to Morristown housing inspector John Fugger.

    Fugger said, "The wave (of overcrowding) has gotten bigger We're doing the best we can headed in the right direction."

    In June, at least 17 people were found living in a well-maintained brick home on Walker Avenue after zoning officials and police used an administrative warrant to inspect the residence during early morning hours. The home was owned by Sergio Albarracin. Town officials cited him for overcrowding, and this Friday he will defend his case in municipal court. If found guilty, Albarracin could face maximum penalties of $1,250 for each offense and 90 days in jail.

    A handful of landlords convert living rooms and dining rooms on the first floor into bedrooms with one double bed in each. They also place additional beds in attics and basements. Complaints from neighbors and random inspections lead to overcrowding discoveries, he added.

    Politicians and community leaders in Morristown, Dover and other municipalities have been working with state Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Boonton, to stiffen penalties for overcrowding.

    "This makes the passage of legislation by Sen. Bucco more pressing," said Morristown Mayor John "Jay" DeLaney Jr., in a previous interview. "We need help at the end of the road that, once we catch these despicable human beings who allow this, they will face real penalties."

    If passed, the bill would raise the fine for the first illegal housing conviction to $10,000 from the current maximum of $1,250. Any subsequent conviction would bring a $15,000 fine. Currently, fines vary and sometimes are reduced once a violator gets the property back into compliance.

    Morristown Fire Department Captain Jon Prachthauser worries overcrowding could increase the risk faced by firefighters by turning an already dangerous fire emergency into a rescue mission as well.

    "This is definitely an issue in Morristown," said the fire captain. "I'm seeing more of it (overcrowding) It's bigger than a captain working a shift."

    The goal, officials say, is to take residents out of unsafe living situations by generating compliance with local codes either through voluntary efforts or legal means.

    Diana Mejia, director of Morristown's Wind of the Spirit immigration support group, said the need for housing for poor residents is the issue; adding overcrowding results in exploitation of immigrants. Landlords evict tenants to avoid penalties, Mejia added.

    Morristown's housing and property codes for occupancy standards are 150 square feet for one occupant, 250 square feet for two occupants, 350 square feet for three occupants and 100 square feet per occupant thereafter. The code bans the use of cellars, kitchens, foyers, vestibules or common living areas for bedrooms. The exceptions are a living room area used by no more than one person where the total occupancy is not more than two, or if the unit is larger than 500 square feet. Basement bedrooms are allowed if there is sufficient light and ventilation.

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    Oh guys, yer missing the best part of this fire. Community latino activists are bashing the firefighters and police officers on the scene, stating that the lives were lost in vein due to a language barrier. As one latino community leader said on the news "it is the public safetys RESPONSIBILITY to be able to communicate." She claims that victims were unable to understand to come down the ladder or something along those lines. In addition, she was also very upset at the fact that numerous immigrants attempted a rescue themselves with ladders to windows and were removed by the FD, clearly because there was a langauge barrier. She goes on to say that there were firefighters and police officers all over the place "not doing anything"

    Ok, three points for this loudmouth mutt

    1. If this is racist and arrogant, I appologize in advance, but if you come to our country, speak our language. If I went to Germany, and didn't speak German, I certainly wouldn't be mad at the people who didn't understand me and berate them for failing to learn my language.

    2. If I'm in China, and I don't speak chinese, and my apartment is on fire, I don't care what the firefighters are yelling at me and that I can't understand them, I know to get out.

    3. Why do people not understand that Joe Blow can't go climbin up a ladder to a fully involved multi family dwelling without any training, any gear, and try and do anything other than be another victim. And how dare this woman berate us for protecting that civilian.

    Grrr.. what a firestorm this has created here..

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    from DualReverse: I'll give way to your experience on investigations here, but I'd submit things in LPW are a bit different than in other areas...
    I've no doubt that your right about the problems there. From what I understand the LPW area has a lot of Somalis as well. The brothers that cover this area have their hands full trying to deal with all the issues raised by a large polulace of immigrants, not the least of which is the language barrier.

    My earlier point was based on personal experience with several fire investigations involving Mexican nationals. In these cases, those responsible have used fire in blatant attempts to hurt people. Jamming people into an apartment isn't uncommon either (I'm sure this isn't exclusive to those of Mexican ethnicity). The one that comes to mind in particular involved something like 13 or 14 people (independant reports had as many as 18) in a small house.

    It's just like any other aspect of our job. We better be aware of everything, and expect anything. If there is a neighborhood with a large number of people of any culture whether Mexican, Somalis, or Martians, and they typically overcrowd their dwellings and use fire to hurt people, then we have to remember those possibilities and be ready to deal with that potential. I'm not sure if trying to burn people is a gang thing or what, but it's there, so "we" as an industry better anticipate it. My previous comments were meant in that vein and nothing more. It's all about strategic/tactical awareness.

    As you're more familiar with this specific area than I, what kind of mechanism is in place for enfocement of building codes or zoning in this area? I heard on the radio this morning that a health department spokesperson had said they are responsible for overcrowding issues, but seldom enforce the law unless there are complaints.
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    09/18/04 - Posted from the Daily Record newsroom
    Morristown man admits 'stacking' 17 tenants
    By Jenna M. McKnight, Daily Record

    MORRISTOWN - A town man pleaded guilty Friday to five zoning and housing violations after inspectors said they found in June he had at least 17 tenants living in the three-story home he occupies on Walker Avenue.

    Municipal Court Judge Gary Troxel ordered Sergio Albarracin to pay $6,400 in fines and serve five days on the Sheriff's Labor Assistance Program, said Morristown zoning official John Fugger.

    Additionally, Albarracin received a suspended 60-day jail sentence for each charge, which might be imposed if he has future violations, said his attorney, James Porfido.

    Porfido said he'll ask for decreased jail time and a lower fine in a written brief he plans to submit to the court within two weeks.

    "It was fair, but I still would say it was excessive," Porfido said of the penalty in a post-trial interview.

    Following Albarracin's plea Friday morning - and before his sentencing hearing that afternoon - inspectors visited the house to take pictures, which they brought back to the town hall courtroom. Town prosecutor Dan Coburn said the pictures "verified what had been going on there."

    The judge also allowed two neighbors who had planned to testify to express their thoughts before Albarracin's sentencing.

    "They were really enraged," Coburn said. "They definitely spoke believably, emphatically and loudly. They would have liked immediate incarceration."

    Inspectors will return Monday to ensure Albarracin has corrected all violations. This means clearing out the living room, taking locks off bedroom doors, removing small refrigerators from the bedrooms and dismantling the kitchen in the basement, Fugger said.

    Albarracin has owned the house since March.

    "I believe he'll take care of the things he needs to take care of," Porfido said. "He is very sorry this happened and he wants to correct it."

    The house at 26 Walker Ave. was inspected on two occasions.

    Prompted by neighbors' complaints, Fugger said he and Roger Topping, the town's housing inspector, served Albarracin an administrative search warrant on June 23 after being refused entry into the brick home during several prior attempts.

    They determined from the number of beds that at least 17 people were living there, Fugger said.

    There was evidence of people sleeping in both the attic and basement, and the living and dining rooms were being used as bedrooms, he said.

    Albarracin was cited, Fugger said, but complaints persisted.

    Inspectors returned Aug. 4 with another search warrant and found evidence of only seven to eight tenants. The third floor had also been vacated, Fugger said.

    Still, people were living in the basement and sleeping in the dining room, he said.

    "Seven to eight people is not overcrowding, but violations still existed," he said.

    The case marks yet another instance of overcrowding in Morristown, which housing and zoning officials said they're working hard to crack down on.

    "It's a growing problem, and we're dealing with it as best we can," Fugger said, noting they're pushing for increased fines of up to $10,000. "We're trying to get the word out to the Hispanic community, and to all communities, that this is a dangerous situation."

    The town prosecutor said he was pleased with Friday's sentencing, particularly because of the growing issue of overcrowding.

    "It's a major problem in Morristown," Coburn said. "People want to come here to work. But you rent an apartment, you don't live in someone else's house."


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