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Demolition Underway For House Where 4 Died In Fire


Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) – Roughly a year after a mother and her three young sons perished in a house fire, what remains of their home is being demolished. City of Utica Department of Public Works started the court-ordered demolition this morning. Mayor Robert Palmieri said, “Anyone in this area driving by here, it’s the first thing that strikes … it’s a remembrance of a very tragic time. We will never forget the family that has perished in here, but we need closure at this point, and we had to wait for the Supreme Court to give us the legal process and once that transpired, we’re coming in here. … Unfortunately at this time, at the expense of the taxpayers.”

Another house across the street, also damaged by fire, is coming down too, and Palmieri says the demolition project will cost taxpayers roughly $75,000.00. He points to irresponsible landlords for the city having to take up the cost of cleaning up the property.

Fire Chief, Utica Fire Department, Russell Brooks called the May 2011 fire one of the worst days in the history of his department. “It was tragic and you know, the guys not being able to safe them … not being able to get through this wall of flame in time, you know has weighed on them and this will bring a certain amount of closure,” he said. The Chief says, Leida Santiago, the mother who died along side her three young boys while trying to safe them, is a Martyr.

“We can never forget Leida Santiago and her young sons, Julius, Matias and Sebastian Rolon. We will never relinquish their memories. But we will finally remove the scar that reminds us all of that terrible day. Since May 9, 2001, this West Utica neighborhood has not been the same,” said Palmieri in a statement.

Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

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