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Thread: When bad things happen to things you've permitted

  1. #1
    Jan 2004

    When bad things happen to things you've permitted

    So I opened up the paper this morning and there, front and center, is a story about a house that I permitted about a year ago that has just burned completely to the ground. I was horrified. When the permitting was being done, the fire department had given us a letter stating that they probably couldn't get up the mile-long, steep driveway and that they would request springlers. The landowners fought it the whole way and then finally acquiesed.

    The landowners were actually planning on moving in next week, and all that was being done was the final touches. The sprinkler system wasn't hooked up yet. What started the fire was the propane heaters that the carpenters had left on during the night.

    AT 630 AM, when the fire trucks arrived, it was minus 19. The trucks couldn't make it up the driveway. The hoses froze. One of the fire trucks had a gas leak and caught fire itself. It was utter pandemonium, and the house burned to the ground. The press is calling us because there is all this warning in the file that this might happen.

    Anybody ever have anything like this happen to them?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
    Jul 2003
    Down by Dun Ringill
    Blog entries
    Nothing yet in our county. But of course there aren't many counties in the mountainous and rural West that don't have dozens of similar situations out there and are just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    In Lewis and Clark County the Bucksnort Fire of 2000 burned quite a few homes in the wildland urban interface and subsequently substandard roads were washed out by flash floods, caused by heavy rains and a loss of vegetation to sop it up. Did people learn their lesson. Very few.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  3. #3
    Feb 2004
    We had a very similar thing happen, only on a commercial project. The owner wanted a certain size building that the Fire Inspector was requiring sprinklers on. He didn't want to do it, and actually got an exception so he didn't need a sprinkler system. Well, two months after the business opened, a worker left a propane heater on overnight and the building was gone.

  4. #4
    Nov 2005
    In the Peach State
    ...So the message of these stories is, do not get a propane heater.

  5. #5
          abrowne's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Or... don't get a house?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Sep 1999
    400 miles from Orlando
    I did a rezone on an apartment complex that was permitted for construction even though water was not yet available to the site. One of the buildings caught fire during construction and burned to the ground. It made the county rethink its policy on the availability of water at construction.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
    Mar 2003
    "Somewhere in the middle"
    I had a house burn to the ground just before completion. The owners had been staining and left a pile of staining cloths and it combusted. They were less than a mile from the voluteer fire station. Burned to the ground including the huge pipe organ the house was created for.

    The interesting arguement was when a new subdivision was going through the platting process and they kept telling us that they were only two miles from the fire station and thus well protected for potential fire. I laughed, and reminded them of the recent fire from the same station.

    Here is the kicker. When the board approved the plat they insisted that landowners only be able to have manacured yards on up to 2 acres of 20 acres lots. Everyone around here burns off dead grass. I forsee a great grass fire that takes out a major portion of that subdivision in the future but would they listen to me??

  8. #8
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
    Aug 2001
    A prominent construction firm in N. America requested a permit for a new building in Vancouver WA, right in the flight path of our little municipal airport. I wouldn't let them put on a second story due to height restrictions. The FAA didn't really care, so I was the only one that stood firm on the issue. They brought down the politicians on me, but I didn't budge. Lo and behold, a few months after occupancy, a little plane crashed into a tree near the building that was shorter than the proposed second story... the thing would have smacked right into the building if it had been built. Did they call to say 'thank you'? Heck no!

  9. #9
    With all the permits that I've reviewed and issued or have gone out under my name because of being the planning director, I don't want to think about it.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
    May 2004
    nothing bad has ever happened to anything I permitted. I planned for every scenario

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