Items missing from fire scene; firefighter investigated
An antiques dealer whose former shop was condemned after the fatal November fire at the McCrossen Building brought the allegations to police and city officials late last week.
She was told to file a police report. It wasn't clear Monday whether that's happened.
Sue Ludwig, who owned The Spare Room Vintage Flea Market, said that items from her condemned store showed up on Craigslist, a free website for classified ads.
She believes the ads were posted by the firefighter, she said Monday.
The firefighter was put on leave effective Tuesday, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.
Everett police are investigating whether the firefighter was "in possession of items allegedly removed inappropriately from a fire scene," Reardon said.
Paid administrative leave is standard procedure for any kind of serious allegation against a city staffer and is not a disciplinary finding, she said.
"At this time, it's too early to come to any kind of conclusions," she said.
Ludwig owned The Spare Room for nearly five years, she said. She estimates she lost about $100,000 worth of goods in the fire. The store didn't burn, but it was damaged by smoke, asbestos, water and mold, she said.
Most of the goods inside were ruined, she said. One of her vendors had some stoneware pottery inside the wreckage.
The vendor spotted Craigslist ads for the pottery, Ludwig said.
"They recognized their items, and they called 911," she said.
The vendor went to the firefighter's house last week, Ludwig said. The man reportedly told the vendor he'd bought the items for $300. He allegedly said he would return them to her at the same price.
He also reportedly had a lamp at his house that the vendor recognized. Details of that conversation have not been confirmed with police.
The Herald is not naming the firefighter because he has not been charged with a crime. Documents show he's been with the department since at least the mid-1990s. His age was not immediately available.
The Nov. 8 fire left one dead and about 40 displaced. The cause of the fire never was determined, but investigators ruled out arson. The building was supposed to be demolished already, but the property owner says he is still working on it.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com
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