Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fire & Ice

11 South Prospect Street, the morning after

Amherst fire fighters fought the elements almost as much as the fire that broke out late last night into the early morning at 11 South Prospect Street, a two family home adjacent to the American Legion pretty much dead in town center.  Fortunately nobody was injured.

Just before responding to this potentially devastating blaze another "box alarm" had come in from Pelham Road near the Amherst/Pelham town line with reports of "smoke in the structure."  But that call proved to be a false alarm.

Engine 2 was then diverted to the South Prospect Street fire to join with Engine 3 (Student Call Force), Engine 1, Ladder 1, and Rescue 1.  

The blaze was confined to the 2nd floor bedroom but this morning a bright sticker on the front door shows that the building is condemned until basic renovations take place.


Anonymous said...

Any word as to the origin? Is that a rental property? Soo, what I am really asking is if that house is rented to students and this was a space heater issue or a candle or burnt toast or a smoldering cigarette. Just curious.

Larry Kelley said...

No, no word yet on cause. Yes it's a rental.

Being a "two family" it can legally hold up to 8 "unrelated" tenants.

Dr. Ed said...

Being a rental it can also have shitty wiring, a leaking roof permitting water to co-mingle with this wiring, and a heating system so substandard that the tenants have no choice but to resort to space heaters to avoid freezing to death.

Conditions in Amherst rentals are often ones which the landlord would never tolerate in his/her/its own residence. I will never forget the battle I had I had with a landlord over a four-unit building on Lincoln Avenue when the entire porch roof started to collapse.

This was a BIG (19th Century) porch with a big roor, likely weighing multiple tons, and the tenants were walking under it multiple times a day.

And all I really wanted was for her to so SOMETHING so that it didn't come down on someone's head -- temporary crib work -- anything to hold up that weight as the structural members were failing and you could visibly see that the porch roof was sinking on one side.

The owner did eventually do something but if she had been living there and had it pointed out that her safety was at risk, I'm guessing it would have been days and not months before she acted.

And the students got rented stuff that they KNEW that I would never pass -- going into one student rental on a social visit, I realized that the stair railing was a copper tubing.

I thought "no, it must be a spare piece, no one would ever --- mot that this met code for a railing, but they must have had a scrap piece they used here,

But to my horror, I quickly learned t5hat this was an active gas line, memory is feeding the kitchen stove.

My Point: You can blame the students for everything including Global Warming but it's not really warm this winter and they aren't always responsible for their apartments burning down.

Dr. Ed said...

A specific example -- in the mid/late 1990's, there were a lot of kitchen fires in North Village. Nothing like the two serous ones -- the recycling shed and the one started by the bathroom exhaust fan -- but when you are dealing with UMass, it isn't hard to run up five figures of damage. Asians tend to cook with a lot of oil, the stoves weren't kept as clean as they should have been, and UMass blamed the students (as I think someone above also wants to do) and without any actual evidence tit was their fault uMass builled them -- demanding they pay immediately or be kicked out of school -- and the country. This really wasn't racism == UMass treats all students that badly.

Well, one afternoon while I was checking out a vacant apartment, I noticed heat coming from a stove that wasn't turned on. When I opened the oven door, it shot sparks at me -- big white sparks in my face, and I was not happy.

The modern thermoplastics -- "Thermoplastic High Heat-resistant Nylon coated" T(HHN) wire and the related fittings are truly amazing -- they are rated for 194 degrees (90 celsus) -- but only that and you can;'t use thm on the top of an electric stove because it gets hotter than that.

But when Housing replaced components on the stoves, instead of using the mandated porcelain ones, they were using the standard plastic ones that couldn't stand the heat.

And when I discarded the stoves that had plastic wire nuts in them, we didn't seem to have as many kitchen fires anymore...