I can see my “because of wtf” tag getting a work-out.

So. The situation here continues to be shaped like a pear. A brownish, somewhat rotten pear that’s been leaking gunk all over your crisper for weeks. Okay, yeah, that analogy sucks, but let’s roll with it, shall we?

The house burned down — a pretty impressive fire from the looks of it on the news reports. I took note of the fire company that had answered the alarm with the intent of getting in touch with them about the whole thing and then promptly got eaten by real life unrelated to that particular situation. I spent a lot of time helping to prep a case for court and the, because I’d been so involved, testifying in court about the technical aspects of forensic investigation. (Note to self: the term “Philadelphia lawyer” is used as superlative for a reason. For real.) We got hammered by an unseasonably severe nor’easter icestorm that knocked out power all over the damn place. (Note to self: yes, Nate, you really do prefer the Santa Ana winds over nor’easters. Get a heavier coat.) I volunteered a bit of time teaching the protesters downtown basic first aid techniques, how to recognize and treat shock, when to call an ambulance. (Look, I am an MD, and I’ve got the student loans to prove it.) In the meantime, Dr. Weller started sending me out as primary forensic investigator on more calls — apparently, not being busted for getting shirty with Homeland Security was some sort of local rite of passage indicating my readiness for unsupervised field work. Local opinion is that there’s been a noticeable uptick in violent crime between this year and last; will have to check the statistics once they’re published.

So my brownish pear analogy continued to rot quietly away until just last week, when I dealt with ‘I’m thousands of miles away from all my loved ones’ blues on Emogiving by wandering down to the fire company in question and started making friends. Or trying to at any rate. Most of the officers were out on a call — apparently, people starting house fires with inexpert attempts to deep fry whole turkeys is rapidly becoming a new American holiday tradition. On the plus side, the officer on desk duty at the firehouse had also been on desk duty the night of the fire in question, and was willing to talk about it. Really, really willing. Apparently I’m not the only one who found, and finds, the situation freakworthy. The company had, according to my source, been instructed to let the house burn. They were allowed to hose down the neighboring houses and prevent the fire from spreading into the rest of the property and the surrounding properties, but the house itself was allowed to burn to the foundations — they weren’t even supposed to hose down the wreckage to cool off any hotspots after it collapsed into its own basement. They remained on call in case the wreckage flared up again and, eventually, everything that had fallen into the basement and survived the intensity of the fire itself was hauled away, he presumed by DHS. A few days later, the agent that had been in charge that night came around to take statements from the fire crew, reinforce that they were under a gag order when it came to talking about the fire with the local media, and encourage them to call him if they noticed anything unusual about the site in the next few weeks. My source gave me one of the cards he’d left: Agent Gerhard Stahl, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Special Operations.

The Department of Homeland Security website does not list an Office of Special Operations as one of its divisions. I’m not exactly naive enough to think that really means anything but…well. Yeah. It adds an entirely new level of sticky rotten brown WTF to a situation already thoroughly coated in the same.

This weekend, I’m going to go down and take a look at the site itself.


~ by Dr. Nate Harada on December 2, 2011.

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