Late on the night of July 4, vandals set fire to 1706 and 1708 Eutaw
Fireworks had been going off all night of course. I was
amazed at the sheer stupidity and/or disregard for safety. Parents in the
building next door were showing little toddlers how to light bottle rockets.
Cherry bombs were being detonated incessantly out front in the street. Every
once in a while you'd see bright aerial displays, sparks drifting over hot,
We had been watching a car with Pennsylvannia plates pull up for a week
before, each time loaded with a trunk full of fireworks. All very expensive.
But apparently no lack of cash for them. Repeated calls to the police were
ignored, as they were that night. Most fireworks are not illegal and 911
operators don't consider them important.
This crowd of people on the stoop of 1710, next door to us here, were firing
Roman Candles over and over again. They were launching them directly at
buildings, including over ours. I know. I was up on the roof with a garden
hose in one hand and a phone in the other for three hours. Here, they're
seen enjoying the exciting show they created, as an officer drives by.
I called the police several times, insisting this was not ordinary fireworks.
This was akin to an armed assault. And at one point I threatened retaliation.
"What are you saying, sir?" I was saying that if they persisted in lobbing
incendiary devices at houses and hit mine, I would defend my home with more
than just the garden hose I used for hours from the roof.
After more than an hour of shooting these off, they succeeded in setting
the wooden back balcony to 1708 Eutaw ablaze. Within five minutes, the fire
had traveled through next door and up two stories where it was seen through
the roof. Five minutes.
The firetrucks responded very quickly. Here you see a huge floodlamp from
a hook and ladder truck and the silhouette of a fireman hosing down the
back side of the building. Flames can be seen in the window under his feet
and to the left.
This is the damage ...
The owners of the buildings were not displaced. These are income properties.
The only people threatened were MICA students, a single Mom and some young
people with their first apartment. Fortunately no one was hurt.
The owners of the buildings and one other along Eutaw Place called this
a deliberate "fire bombing" and called this event their "September 11th."
They demanded action from the owners of 1717-1715 Madison Avenue where they
claimed a "terrorist conspiracy" had emanated. That building is directly
across the alley.
They have demanded of HUD that its subsidies be withdrawn. HUD determined
the building was not being properly managed, thanks in part to my testimony
that dealing was rampant in the building. The property management team have
put on extra guards and that's greatly reduced the problems there.
Of course, the fire was vandalism from a group of young people, not all
of whom even lived in the buildings. But the landlords were irate. This
was a great excuse to get that building closed down. Section 8 housing is
bad for their property values, don't you know? And that's their only interest.
Nothing else. Though they like to pretend it's the poor conditions and their
sympathy for the good people in the building that motivates them. No suggestions
offering better. Just "not in my backyard."
These people were upset with me that I posted my recollection of the events
on the web. Apparently they thought they could sue the owners of the building
for damages. I still don't understand that. I'm sure neither of these landlords
would believe they were responsible for the criminal actions of their tenants.
And in this case, it had little to do with the building and didn't come
from it, as they had said without seeing it firsthand, as I did.
I do wonder if these "victims" regret now saying they were firebombed and
that this was a deliberate act of terrorism. Since then, we've seen what
a firebombing by drug dealers terrorists really is.