Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Fatal Fire

The Palm Beach Daily News—aka The Shiny Sheet—had a front-page story yesterday about eighty-year-old Jimmy Barker whose house burned in May and whose friend James Heyman died in the blaze. And now the town is on Jimmy’s back to get him to repair it. I think they should cut the guy a break. Jimmy had no insurance but he’s got ten acres of land in Nantucket worth over $20 million and once he sells some of that he can easily rebuild. He’s been trying to get a reverse mortgage to repair the house but no luck.

When the house caught on fire James Heyman was taking a nap in the upstairs west bedroom. That’s what he did almost every morning at that time and onlookers, Barker, and even the police told the fire fighters where he might well be. In retrospect--and that's the most dangerous phrase in the English language--all they would have had to have done was to have placed a ladder against the wall, broken through the wooden shutters with their axes, and they would have found Heyman in his bed. Maybe he already would have died of smoke inhalation but maybe he would have been alive. Now the Fire Department disputes this and say that they acted professionally and they are not shy in presenting their version.

What troubles me is that in a typical Palm Beach manner, this whole issue was swept aside. Why wasn’t this matter looked into publicly by the Town Council? And why when at least one resident—Gunilla von Post—says that she wrote letters to the editor at the Shiny Sheet criticizing the Fire Department didn’t the paper publish them? And why according to my sources has the Police Department even purchased or plans to purchase special equipment so police officers can enter burning buildings—a matter left exclusively to firefighters in most places.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can we believe anything that Gunilla Von Post says - her life revolves around a one night tryst with Jack Kennedy while he was engaged to Jackie and swears that she was the love of his life......Her letters to the local paper and/or town were probably as delusional as her book.