ERIE, Pa. — For a year, residents of a west-side Erie neighborhood have lived with hazardous rubble near their homes.
A warehouse fire in the 1300 block of West 20th Street torched more than 1,000 mattresses on April 11, 2016.
The Department of Environmental Protection issued an order to the out-of-state owner this month, El Grande Enterprises and two individuals, which mandates that the site be cleaned within 60 days.
“We don’t want to wait another 60 days before they fine him again and then wait another 60 days and another 60 days. We want it cleaned up, now,” said neighbor Kim Moss, who held signs beside her home to protest on Wednesday.
Residents said odors, rodents and illegal dumping have become a problem since the fire.
“I can tell that something new has been added to the pile. I walk my dog back there. The tv was never there before,” said neighbor Cheryl Caribou.
Neighbors said the situation is dangerous.
Moss said, “We’re really not safe at all, because on a windy day things come out of the pile and go whipping through the air; and not only that, but there’s animals living back there.”
As fire officials call the mattresses hazardous, the City of Erie Office of Code Enforcement said cleanup is the responsibility of the property owner.
Others said more could be done.
“The excuse that it’s hazardous waste doesn’t wash with me, because right now, during spring clean-up, we’re picking up used mattresses everywhere,” said John Reitinger, a former City of Erie code enforcement officer.
In spite of the DEP order, residents like Moss want to see action, now.
“If people were to see this mess and they had to look at it everyday, they would care,” said Moss. “If this were downtown on 12th Street, people would care.”