The New Stuff

Mass. Home Calls 911 on Its Own!

MARBLEHEAD, Mass. A two-story Massachusetts home ravaged by months of water damage from a leaky pipe called 911 Wednesday bringing stunned town officials to its rescue.

Marblehead police said they received a 911 hang-up call from 31 Rockaway Avenue, when authorities called the number back they just got static.

Officers, who were called out to investigate, obtained an order to force their way into the house after no one answered the door.

When officers entered the wooden home, they found the floors were buckled, ceilings were sagging, the basement was filled with five feet of water and potentially toxic mold was growing all over the place.

"Water came down inside the walls and through the ceiling," said Health Director Wayne Attridge.

Firefighters pumped out the basement, and all the utilities were stopped, according to fire Capt. Mike Porter. The bills, meanwhile, were up-to-date.

The homeowner gone no one yet knows where the house likely sprang a leak during a past freeze and began spraying water all over. Worse yet, potentially toxic mold is everywhere. "It's a horrific mess," said Attridge, who said the inside of the structure may have to be gutted

"Right now," Building Commissioner Bob Ives said, "the house is unfit for human habitation. I don't think anyone would want to go in there because of the level of mold." Hot weather will worsen that problem, he added. And without some kind of quick remediation, "it will have to be gutted."

Restoring the inside, Ives acknowledged, might be so expensive that it would be more cost-effective to simply tear down the structure and build anew. The current two-story, six-room, single-family Colonial was built in 1941 and is currently assessed for $375,000. It has a two-car garage, and Ives described it as relatively small.

Neither Ives nor Attridge had gone inside. Depending on a determination of the damage, Attridge said, the town could require the interior to be gutted.

Authorities claim the water damage had short-circuited the phone system, leading to the 911 call.

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