A Fire Marshals comments to news crew at fatal fire brings back bad memories of what happened at a clients apartment building. A look at Hoarding

 A recent news article and fatal fire here in Penn Hills brought chilling words from the Fire Marshal Chuck Miller of the growing problem of people Hoarding

I will never forget getting the call from my customer on the  chilly morning of  March 16th, 2001  I got a call from my customer Brian Barcic his Fieldbrook Apartment building was on fire.
as we stood out back as Mt Lebanon firefighters put out the fire and secured the scene on the 2nd floor . It was then that we started seeing firefighters throwing pile after pile after pile of newspapers and magazines out of the 2nd floor apartment window  which had caught fire
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1129&dat=20010317&id=bvFRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=aXADAAAAIBAJ&pg=3324,4859367

The problem the women was a hoarder and had the apartment filled with newspapers to 4 ft high with only place to sit down was small place in kitchen and bathroom. Even thou alarms activated and she tried to escape her junk filled apartment and Mt Lebanon Firefighters  and medics did there best to save her life  She would pass away from smoke damage to her lungs. Brian felt bad but the way tenant privacy rules are written he had no power to just go in and inspect a unit. He now has it in his lease that apartments are to be inspected annually to try and head something like this off at the past and Mt Lebanon also put into effect new rules to try and prevent this from happening again.
But there are those who say leave them alone and mind your own business let them live like they want to.

Yes hoarding is becoming a major problem and only getting worse I saw it all the time when I served as a firefighter. and it is these cluttered junked up homes  and apartments which are becoming fire traps, and frequently become death traps when a fire does start as owners and tenants can not escape.

One of the worst cases of hoarding  involved a set of brothers in New York City who ended up dying in the death trap they created  .






I have a neighbor whose brother lives down the street and his home is a fire trap the parents are dead and he lives by himself in a pig sty ,as you can see in the pictures above . 
Often mental health issues come into play and those who hoard often become hermits who disapear from society and simply want left alone. 
I have spent many hours cleaning up these types of places after the owners have passed and its disgusting and you must take hazmat precautions. 
How ccan any one live like this ? who knows .What can you do if you suspect hoarding? not much you can contact Code Enforcement Officials.who can make them clean up and if they are seniors local area on aging office or similar senior advocate who may be able to help.
But unless agency's are willing to get involved or until the time the person is considered a harm to them selves or the community not much can be done. You will just keep hearing more and more about these cases. The  earlier you can find out a relative or friend is doing it the easier it is to get the help nd treatment.
Also remember there is a difference between cluttered and people being pack rats . while there homes may not be the most orderly or best house keepers  they are not obstructing with items to point you can not get thru rooms and hallways.





 

A Christmas Time Fire Mystery in W.Va. The missing Sodder Children What Really Happened?

I spend a lot of time in W.Va. and was listening to a  distant AM radio station when traveling down to Charleston W.Va. one day  when I heard this incredible story about a family of 5 children  from Fayetteville believed to have possibly been kidnapped and the crime covered up when the family home was deliberately set on fire. and local authorities standing in the way preventing the finding of answers .




14 yr old Maurice ,12 yr old Martha, 10 yr old Louis ,8 yr old Jennie 6 yr old  Bettie all went missing that night  after there mother got a mysterious wrong number phone call  and then the fire broke out later that early morning .

The mafia possibly being involved. which is strange I never heard of any mob family being involved in that part of W. Va. however Mr. Sodder had just started a thriving Coal Trucking outfit and you better believe the unions would be  interested in that if he got big enough  and we know the affiliation of the mob and teamsters during Jimmy Hoffa era. But this was before that. and it was a small company .  But from what I can find there was no threats or intimidation of any kind by the unions,that Mr. Sodder reported he was a small fry . But he was threatened by a man selling life insurance  who threatened to burn the home and ironically ended up on the jury that ruled all the children had died in the fire.

The fire was definitely arson  as the sound of a rolling bottle then an explosion  and a delivery driver reporting seeing something flying thru the air. But even as hot as the fire got there is no way the body's would have been consumed any fire expert or scientists would agree. But the Sicilian  Mob involved highly unlikely they only killed there own over business or those who would get in the way and threaten them. 
and would not kill children and an insult especially about Mussolini who tied to kill all the mafia at time in Italy no chance they where involved.   

So that leaves an Italian Insurance salesman and his kinfolk as suspect who could have kidnapped the children and sent them to Italy to live but you would think at some point as these children where old enough they would go looking for answers unless they where totally convinced by the story they where given. Or there are darker things which could have been done to them from killing them to being sold into child sexual slavery and worse.Unfortunately so much time has passed and there are plenty of people who should have went to prison over how this whole matter  went down. but they are long gone and not talking but surely there relatives know.  But in W.Va.  like in Kentucky there has always been backwoods justice  just look at the Hatfields and McCoys.  Will the real truth ever come out ? maybe some day when everyone involved has passed and the children or grandchildren  feel brave enough to talk about it. 


Jilted lovers and an unsolved murder over 200 years old in Fayette County

 As I travel thru Fayette County  I often listen to the local 590 AM WMBS radio station which  carry's  much local programming and one evening they talked about this murder that happened in 1810 in then very rural Uniontown  that saw the local residents shocked when the body of a young 17 yr old  Polly Williams  was found by a group of girls as they walked under a large cliff from which it appears she was possibly thrown after being in a scuffle possibly with a young lover . Or was it truly just an accident she lost her way and fell. 



Her you lover Rodger Philips was tried and found not guilty and the crime has gone unsolved to this time but is sung in folk  song and told in scary story's as a warning to those young and in love as a precaution to always be careful when in love.
 The story possibly even lead to a couple of Hollywood Movies where such a scene plays out.

The whole truth of the matter thou has become convoluted with story's and legends now mixed in that the truth of what really happened may never be known and since so much time has passed and evidence disappeared it will remain unsolved.