Hoarder house condemned, fireworks found

The house at 16 Sally Ave. Westfield where a cadre of commercial grade fireworks is seen on Friday. (Photo by Lynn Boscher)

WESTFIELD – A Sally Avenue house apparently formerly occupied by a hoarder has been condemned after city police removed two firearms and state officials removed more than a half ton of commercial grade fireworks.
City police responded Thursday to a report that firearms had been found in an apparently derelict house on Sally Avenue after a representative of a company which had been contracted to clear out a house at 16 Sally Ave. called at 6:22 p.m. Thursday to report that he had found two handguns in the house and would like to surrender them to police.
The caller explained that his company had been hired to clear out the house by a bank which had foreclosed on the property.
Officer William Cavanaugh arrived at the house at 6:31 p.m. and, in less than a half hour, reported “The home may need to be condemned” when he requested the assistance of code enforcement officer Harry Sienkiewicz.
About a half hour later, Sienkiewicz was at the house and asked the dispatcher to contact a deputy fire chief he wanted to speak with.
Officers from the department’s detective bureau, Det. Sgt. Stephan Dickinson and Det. Brian Freeman, arrived at the house at 7:35 p.m.
Freeman soon left to return with a representative of the State Police bomb squad.
At 10:39 he advised the dispatcher that they were leaving the scene but would return Friday with hazmat protection and representatives of the state Fire Marshal.
On Friday neighbors reported seeing investigators in hazmat suits entering the house which they said was impassable inside due to piles of debris.
Later in the day, Jennifer Meith, a spokesperson for the Fire Marshal’s office, reported that personnel from the Joint Hazardous Incident Response Team arrived in Westfield Friday to continue the investigation. She explained that the team is comprised of members of the bomb squad and hazardous materials response team.
She said that the investigators had to wear protective clothing and carry their air supply when they entered the house which they found was filled with a hoarder’s piles of saved property and littered with animal feces.
Inside, Meith reported, investigators found and removed more than 1,000 pounds of commercial grade fireworks from the unsanitary house.
The house was also inspected by Steve Cipriani and Thomas Hibert, code enforcement inspectors for the city’s Board of Health.
They report that “the conditions within the dwelling are such that the danger to the life and health of the occupant(s) is so immediate that no delay may be permitted” in declaring the building to be “unfit for human habitation.”

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