Harrisburg Strains To Eliminate Condemned Buildings; Residents Simmer Over Fire Hazards, Nuisances

HARRISBURG–In the 2000 block of Susquehanna Street, routine home maintenance included pruning a neglected tree to eliminate a ladder animals used to enter the upper floors of two condemned homes in the middle of the row.

It included dealing with encroaching mold from the condemned homes’ soggy beams.  It included adding boards at his own expense to keep out squatters, a neighbor said.

Harrisburg has about 400 vacant buildings whose status is considered “emergency” due to hazards and eyesore they pose or criminal activity they attract.  The city expects to demolish 35-40 this year — the most it can do given budget constraints and staffing shortages, said Robert Philbin, the chief operating officer.

“All I can tell you is the city is doing the best it can do,” he said.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/harrisburg_strains_to_eliminat.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Firefighters investigating Back-To-Back Fires In Harrisburg As Possibly Related Arsons

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Harrisburg resident Michael Bordner had just put his eldest daughter to bed in his home at 2042 Susquehanna Street when, just after midnight Monday morning, chaos erupted.

“I laid down at about midnight and then, at about 12:15, I heard all the alarms going off in my home,” he said.  “At the same time I heard my stepfather saying ‘Get [your daughter] grab the dog; we have to get out, there’s a fire!'”

Bordner’s stepfather, Tim Bucher, who was visiting the house Sunday night, had woken up only moments before when he noted a strange smell and bright light emanating from the row house next door at 2044 Susquehanna Street.

“I peeked out the third floor window because something didn’t smell right,” Bucher recalled, almost from a daze Monday morning as firefighters stomped up the ruined stairs to Bordner’s home.  “It didn’t smell like a fire, but when I looked out the window and looked down I saw flames coming up from the floor below.”

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/firefighters_investigating_bac.html#incart_m-rpt-2