Thursday, May 21, 2009

Suspicious Leshemville House Fire Kicks Off the 2009 Emerald City Arson Season

Leshemville demolition and site prep on the cheap... courtesy of the taxpayers and the OFD

Emerald City's 2008 arson spree seems to be having a reprise, after a short winter season respite. The Standard-Examiner reports that Ogden firefighters responded last night to a suspicious fire at 1893 Childs Avenue, squarely in the heart of the Ogden River Project area... the blighted river front acreage to which we affectionately refer as Leshemville, to be exact:

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There are a couple of aspects of this story that we found to be particularly interesting:
Less than four minutes after the call came in at 10:15 p.m., Ogden Fire Department and police had arrived at 1893 Childs Avenue to find fire burning in an empty, boarded-up house, with the blaze spreading into the attic. At that point, it was a matter of protecting the surrounding property, said deputy chief Chad Tucker.[...]
Within minutes of the firefighters cutting a hole in the roof, the old home was engulfed in high flames, which melted the siding on the neighboring house to the north.
We don't know whether it was a particularly hot fire or not. Nevertheless, we wonder what might have happened if this fire had gone undetected, and the Ogden Fire Department had not quickly arrived on the scene. With the fresh spring vegetation, the entire neighborhood could have been engulfed. Imagine the situation a month or two hence, when that neglected vegetation (and adjacent abandoned wooden and vinyl-clad structures) would have been more thoroughly dried out by the summer heat.

We thought this tidbit to be quite interesting too:
[Deputy chief Chad] Tucker said this was the first fire in this area in several months and because the neighborhood was scheduled for already demolition, the fire department was planning to drill fires for homes in the area [Emphasis added].
That's what we'd call making the best of an already bad situation... Leshemville demolition and site prep on the cheap... courtesy of the taxpayers and the OFD.

Who will be the first to comment?


danny said...

Since these once viable neighborhoods, homes and businesses that were confiscated by the Godfrey administration are still boarded up and catching on fire we can certainly say that . . .

. . . It's nice to see Ogden's redevelopment and renaissance are still "on track" and "moving forward".

Dan Schroeder said...

I see that this news also made the Trib.

Unfortunately, the view of Ogden that Trib readers are getting these days amounts to little more than a caricature. The problem isn't that the news is all negative (though it pretty much is). The problem is that the coverage is so superficial. The Trib is no longer devoting the resources to the in-depth articles that it used to do so well.

Kristen Moulton, come back!

Dan Schroeder said...

Yikes! When I'm logged on as a blogger, it puts my picture by my posts! Scary.

Curmudgeon said...


The properties and houses were not "confiscated." The were bought by the city under its eminent domain powers. Whether such powers should have been used for the River Project is doubtful. But what was done was legal under then-existing law, and the unwilling sellers were compensated for their property. [Whether they received "fair market value" or how exactly a government ought to compute "fair market value" for an unwilling seller are all questions worth probing.]

But the property was not confiscated. Things with the now-moribund River Project are bad enough thanks to administrative bungling [with an able assist from the Council prior about five years ago] without trying to make them seem worse by exaggeration.

tax dollars hard at work said...

Gadi is using our tax dollars wisely, training for the Fire Department, the remains arent so expensive and a large burden to the taxpayers to finish the demolishion.

I'd have to say that he is a wise man.

Keep up the good work Gadi.

drewmeister said...

I thought I'd heard sirens last night. It's gotten to the point where I sort of tune them out.

I'll bet buildings that have been burnt to a crisp are much cheaper and easier to demolish.. at least for the property owner anyway. I wonder if any insurance funds have been paid out on all these burnt properties? Seems like a handy way to earn a few bucks.

This town is so absurd it's like living in a parallel universe, separated by some invisible barrier. I can see what's happening on the other side, but it just seems beyond my capabilities to believe it's real.

I just.. wow.

Curmudgeon said...


So the OFD is going to burn down some of the houses as training exercises? May be a marketing opportunity there. Maybe one Saturday a month when nothing much else is happening in Junction City, Ogden could promote a "Burning House Saturday." Encourage folks from SLC to ride the Frontrunner up. Ogden Toonerville Trolley service from there to the site. Draw a crowd to watch the fire and the OFD at work.

Or at least promote it in-city. Peliton's could do a "fire and lunch" promotion [think "dinner and a movie" only hotter]. Maybe raffle off the right to strike the match that starts things off each "Burning House Saturday"... for charity, of course. Children's Treehouse Museum, maybe. Or, oh, I don't know, the Marshall White Center perhaps? I'm sure we could think of others.

Be different, anyway.... but one more thing that's "all within reach!"

what would jesus say said...

Drew, what a great scam. Burn down the houses that are scheduled to be demolished, collect a few bucks from the insurance companies. I wouldnt put it past Gadi, he is a wise money man after all. He has a lot of respect in California for the non payment of workers comp funds.

Seems like Gadi is more of a scammer than a business man.


We could call the fire drills Fire Ops 101. I am pretty sure we could get some attention as to the difficult jobs our Firefighters do when fighting fires, great P.R. and possibliy generate revenue for the city and local caterers.

summers eve said...

Hey Curm, one more thing that "all within reach!"
I was wlking down the river parkway and noticed that a local veteranian is providing disposible glove stations, so dog owners can pick up after their dogs number 2. On the stations it has a Ogden City logo, it says "Ogden, it's all within reach"

What a hoot.

Curmudgeon said...

Amid the continuing tide of bad news in re: Ogden these days, I thought maybe a mention of something Ogden did right would be worth a note. I took Stupid Dog walking along the River Parkway [Rainbow Garden to Washington Blvd. and back.] Damn, it's nice. Picnic tables installed along the way at convenient spots, freshly painted and the sites clean. Benches here and there. Paved trail in good shape with frost heaves paint-marked for repair. [Nice work, Ogden Parks and Recreation. The place looks good.]

Lots of people out even on a weekday morning enjoying it. Dozens and dozens. Power-walkers. Regular walkers. Lots of moms with kids in strollers. Bike riders [casual and look-like-cast-of-Breaking-Away riders]. Older folk sitting riverside, visiting. Even a young woman sitting on the bank reading a book! Sitting by the river in the shade reading a book! Sacre bleu!

The botanical gardens near Monroe look fine. Cool canyon breeze along the way back. Lots of water coming down the river, so you have, for a while at least, the sound of mountain water [good for the soul, that] accompanying you all along the way. Parts of the walk so screened off by trees you'd never know you were in a city.

But you are, right in mid-city Ogden. Kudoes to the Mayor, the Council, Weber Pathways and all the folks who donated to turn it into a real asset and one --- but only one --- of the reasons Ogden's a good place to live.

We'd have gone even further, except the walkway under Washington Blvd is flooded, and there is no crosswalk on Washington there. Five or six lanes, orange barrels all over the place, drivers confused about turn lanes and where to go. Decided not to risk it for coffee by the Riverside at Pelliton's. Would have been a nice break. Ah, well. Maybe when the river falls.]

There are good things happening in Ogden, and some of them are government-sponsored and paid for. Be wise not to forget that amid all the complaining [justified in most cases] about what has not gone well.

Curmudgeon said...

Summers Eve:

Hey, I used one of those [much appreciated] biodegradable pooper-scooper bags this very morning. And I never noticed the slogan. Nice catch, Summer's Eve. Very nice. Love it! I'll look for it next time.

Roger Daltrey said...

After the fire, the fire still burns ...

Dan Schroeder said...

Curm: Great marketing suggestions. That's the kind of positive, creative thinking this city needs.

The stretch of River Parkway that you walked has been in place longer than any of our current elected officials or even Weber Pathways. One of the many who deserve credit for it was former council member Glen Holley.

Oh, and I don't think any eminent domain has been used for the River Project. However, the city was still pretty heavy-handed to declare the area blighted, buy options with the secret intent to turn them over to Leshem, etc.

what will it cost us said...

Part of the problem with these homes are enviorimental issues, a realtor told me there was asbestos shingles, and floors plus some had paint and oil stored in these abondoned homes. Great to breath that pollution when they do burn.

I'm glad I'm upwind and not bothered by the smoke. Since these homes are tax deliquent as I have read shouldn't the county get any insurance pay outs?

The city should add an access fee to any fires that are put out on abondoned buildings, maybe a sur-charge added to any liens that are accessed.

danny said...


To weary myself by correcting you yet again, the powers you refer to as eminent domain come from the Constitutionally allowed power of "taking".

If you want to argue about the nuances between a forcible taking and a confiscation, argue away.

From the standpoint of the people affected, it looks the same.

You must be very bored to make some of the points that you do.

Curmudgeon said...


I seem to recall reluctant River Project RDA area sellers were threatened with having the property condemned under eminent domain powers, so the threat of it at least was used. And I don't recall that people in the phase one area of the River Project had much choice about selling out and getting out. There was certainly a lot of complaining by those who clearly thought they were being forced out, and who were very clearly unwilling sellers.

As for the River Parkway, as I recall significant improvements have been made to it in the past several years... extending it, connecting it up with other trail segments, building bridges and underpasses [like the underpass hooking the Parkway trial up with the Bonneville Bench trail segment north of 12th Street], etc. And that took city cooperation, some city funding, along with work and grants obtained via Weber Pathways, etc. Didn't see any reason not to give all involved in the improvements... which included as I understand it the Mayor's office and the Council... a nod.

And there were a lot of folks out on it this morning. Far more than I'd expected on a workday morn. It really is an asset for Ogden.

Ozboy said...


Who is that bearded hippie that is posting under your name? Seems like I might have twisted up a little rope with the dude back in 68!

And Mr. Curmudgeon, In my ever so humble opinion it is all about semantics. One man's "confiscation" is another man's eminent domain. As I recall the city used the threat of eminent domain on a lot of the property owners in the River area in order to buy the property cheap and turn it over to their favorite felon from California. Call it what you want, it was still a dirty trick the Lil Lord played out on a few of his constituents to get their property on the cheap.

Perhaps I am missing something here with the fire department PR info. First they say their main goal was to protect surrounding properties, then they drilled a hole in the burning house's roof - presumably to vent the fire so it would burn more completely - then as a result of the hotter fire they melt the siding off the next door house! Something doesn't quite seem right with that scene.

And finally my suggestion as to what the Lil Lord and his favorite California Crook should do at this point. Remember the mouthy little sycophant "film producer" pal of Gadi's that was such a big booster of the dynamic crime duo Matt & Gadi - and who incidentally seems to have fallen off the face of the earth or at least got a steady gig gripping on a real movie? Well he ought to be brought back and put in charge. Yes, with all of his vast, and half vast, Hollywood connections it would be a snap for him to sell the following idea to one of his fellow "producers". They could fire bomb, bomb, torch, crash airplanes into and other wise create huge devastation in Leshamville as they destroy it for scenes for a major motion picture, or at least a TeeVee show. In other words, by using the natural born talent of this show biz giant pal of Gadi's they could make big bucks as a film location instead of the tax payers bleeding through their wallets to clean up the mess.

Curmudgeon said...

Sorry, Danny, [and Oz] but words have generally accepted meanings, and misusing them can mislead. Whether it felt like confiscation to the unwilling sellers really doesn't mater. It wasn't confiscation. In discussing public affairs, best to use words accurately, particularly since they are often misused deliberately to mislead [e.g. "it wasn't torture, it was just an enhanced interrogation technique" or "it isn't a tax, it's a revenue enhancement." ]

You don't have to agree, of course, and clearly you don't. But as for me, I just calls 'em like I sees 'em.

Ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

Being that you are such a stickler for using words properly, how about if we meet half way on this one and just say the Lil Lord "screwed" the property owners in question.

Now I know in academia that "screwed" could have a lot of different meanings depending on whether you are in the physics, biology, family planning or wood working departments there at Weber State. In this case we will use the word as it is meant in the business department - as in screwing your customers for the common good.

fireman said...

OZ-cut a hole above the fire and the heat goes up instead of out towards the surrounding structures, the siding was melted before the roof was vented.

danny said...

The gummint takes a person's home or business, sets the price they will get, tells them they are moving, then makes them wait and wait and wait, like Godfrey did to the river property owners, then turns the area into a firetrap of boarded up shacks with no end in sight . . .

. . . and this liberal, Curm, sees the main issue as being a debate of the correct word to use for it, wishes to maintain that "confiscate" isn't the right one, and muses over the importance of using the correct word.

Perhaps we could talk about "not seeing the forest for the trees" or "missing the boat."

Like I said, it's wearying.

Dorrene Jeske said...

This is something else that Ogden residents are doing that is good news!

Tuesday at our work meeting, I learned that there is a group of volunteers working on the Mount Ogden Golf Course. Yesterday I dropped by and talked with Todd Brenkman and told him that I wanted to help. While we were talking he mentioned that Ogden High’s Girls Golf Team used MOGC as their home course and that the last two years they have taken State.

Rudi mentioned a goal of the Council, and here are a few more about which we feel strongly. 1) Having quality activities and events; 2) Improving the quality of parks and recreational facilities; 3) Being well known for our rich natural environment by...... A) Protecting, maintaining and preserving rivers, hillsides. trails, etc. 4) Develop an open space plan. Though the MOGC isn’t mentioned by name, it is implied and an integral part of Ogden and important to everyone in the community.

Whoever thought of using volunteers on the golf course, had a great idea! It would be great now if a few construction companies in Ogden joined together to help with the work that needs to be done on the irrigation system. I have confidence that Jeff and his volunteers can make the course one that is one of the most popular courses in the top of Utah. If the City can’t come up with the funds for more golf carts, then maybe we as a community can have a number of fund raisers to come up the money needed.

We do have a rare jewel in Mount Ogden Golf Course as most out-of-State golfers will readily tell you. We all need to do our part to save it without it costing us our open space and the beautiful setting that it’s in, not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars! This from someone who doesn’t golf.

OgdenLover said...

I suspect the adjacent house with the melting siding was most likely another of those due for demolition, not an occupied dwelling.

Bill C. said...

Old Hippies attacking a dwarf mayor that has a penchant for fabricating falsehoods. What's this world coming to?
Curm, were you baiting me? Now that you've experienced the beautiful river parkway, don't you feel the least bit sad when you see the future plans for below Washinton blvd.? Any rightminded person can see that extending the concept west would be a far greater longterm enhancement for the city than allowing gadi or some real developer to encroach on the riverbank,ala Bingham's Cycley building. Just what the city needs, low rent apartments 20 or 30 feet from the riverbank. The Council should see what they can do, if anything, to restrct construction from building anything less than 150-200 feet from the riverbank.

Curmudgeon said...

You wrote: Being that you are such a stickler for using words properly, how about if we meet half way on this one and just say the Lil Lord "screwed" the property owners in question. Hell, Oz, I [and many others] have been saying that here for years now.

And you wrote: Now I know in academia that "screwed" could have a lot of different meanings....

Well, Oz, my 40 years in academe [5 states, 5 universities] has taught me that "screwed" means in academia pretty much what you intended it to mean. Regardless of department.... [grin].

Curmudgeon said...

More good news:

Bused downtown this afternoon, and walked north along Washington Blvd. to see what I could see, not having been along there in a while. It seems they're working on the Earnshaw building again, and that it will [at last!] be completed. Excellent news. And it seems they have leased out at least part of the cavernous commercial space on the ground floor. Banner hanging from the building promises that Deseret Books will open a store there "summer of 2009." Good too, though a full-service Borders or an indie bookstore would probably have generated more foot traffic. [You'll have to travel to The Bookshelf for vampire tales.] Still, glad the space is leased and the building is being finished. Now if they can just lease out or sell the condos....

Also noticed, walking back South along Washington a big billboard with a picture of Jackie Robinson in his Brooklyn Dodgers uniform [moment of silent prayer that someone is at this very moment spitting on the grave of Walter O'Malley]. The message on the billboard: "Character: Pass it on." Sadly, the sign and its edifying message is not visible from the Mayor's office.

Not so good news: times still tough in the office space market downtown. There's a two or three story squat brown brick building --- looks sort of like a control block at the White Sands Missile Range --- just south of the empty old Wells Fargo office high rise and just across the street from the Junction office block, two stories of which seem to be still un-leased ---- yes, that's the building Hizzonah wanted the city to add two more floors to. The squat brick building is unoccupied and has a banner saying "Two Years Free Rent With Long Term Lease." Man, it's tough out there.

Still, good news on the Earnshaw building.

democrat said...

Where is the real investigations and punishment into these arsons?

Oh... I forgot its all republicans that do that.. Their for "less government."

Dan Schroeder said...

Curm: About a month ago, during intermission at a transit planning meeting, I somehow got into a conversation with Dave Hardman. He told me about Deseret Books moving into the Earnshaw building. Now, the original intent was to have some sort of grocery store on the ground level--not a huge supermarket but something appropriate for an urban neighborhood. Unfortunately, he said, grocers found the building unacceptable because there isn't good access for delivery trucks. Great planning on the part of Mr. Earnshaw and our city's economic development folks, eh?

Curmudgeon said...


Now why am I not surprised? I'd also not be surprised to learn they cut back on loading dock space to leave room for a gondola stanchion....

Water Tanks coming said...

I don't know how else to get word to this site's webmeister so I will write it here even though off topic. Last night was a work session with city planning commissioners and the city engineering dept going over the water tanks to be put on 42nd or so and top of 36th. Two above 36th, one being on Chris Petersons property. The work session was so the planning commission was informed about what is being presented next session in June to pass as it appears the second was not in the c.i.p. so has to go before the commission and I would guess city council to approve. Although there are some real merits to having all this water pressure and reserve, it does seem fishy as future development is one of the reasons for it as well as fire, emergency reserve, pressure etc. One commissioner asked why this was not being funded by Impact fees passed onto the developer. Just thought someone here may want to investigate and better yet get to the meeting to hear more about it.

Ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

The Earnshaw building progress is indeed good news. I drove by and around the place the other day and saw workmen doing their thing - inside and out. One guy with full construction worker regalia was moving pieces of wood from the east side of the building to the North side - about 50 yards or so. I watched him for a while and he would carry about 4 or 5 pieces of 1 by 2 maybe 8 feet long on each trip. The 4 or 5 pieces amounted to maybe ten pounds each trip. He was walking slowly to boot! After three trips he stopped altogether and just ended up standing around watching some other guy cut wood! Talk about featherbedding! I came back around 15 minutes later and he was still standing there watching another guy work.

By the way, I think the Earnshaw building is actually quite nicely designed and built. One thing I was rather curious about tho was the balconies that jut out from the building. Some are made of metal, some are made of concrete and the majority are made from wood. I wondered why. It seems the metal and contrete ones are low floors and the wood are on the high floors. The only thing that jumps out on it is maybe they started cutting corners as the building progressed? Of course that wouldn't fit if the early propaganda on the building was true - that being the place was completely sold out before it was even built! Any one out there that can explain why the different constructions materials in the balconies?

And "Fireman" thanks for the explanation. Makes some sense although it seems that venting a fire makes it hotter - no?

I also noticed a lot of work being done on the other passel of condo's just east of the theater. I even walked through a couple of them that were opened. As a tax payer to Ogden City I sure do hope they sell. They could be pretty cool residences for the right urban metro folks without rug rats. Also noticed the new and empty office building that seems to fit the corner quite well - even without the extra two floors. That is a pretty nicely designed and built building as well.

danny said...


It's all well and good to talk about open space values and other values, but when you council members let Godfrey run rings around you like he's doing with the water tanks (see Water Tanks above), and pay his bloated staff to do it, your words are not worth much.

I'm sure you appreciate what I'm talking about and take this in the friendly spirit in which it is given.

But we need action, not words.

Monotreme said...

The council has investigative authority. So far, only one citizen has called for its use.

It's time for others on this blog to join the call.

what would jesus say said...

Ah, but the Council has very limited funds to perform an investigation. They control the purse stings, but Godfrey hides the money, and sausage.

CHOP SHOP said...

burn down the mission, burn it down to stay alive....its our only chance of living..........bernie toplan.. dont think he was thinking of these criminals when he wrote it = )

Curmudgeon said...


Thank you very much for the update, and for bringing us up to speed on the procedural issues involving the water tank matter.

Dorrene Jeske said...

comment promoted to front page

tom said...

comment bumped to new article

Curmudgeon said...

comment bumped to new article

Smoke Jumper said...

There is nothing quite as invigorating on a slow Monday morning than a controlled burn.

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