Brewer home demolished after black mold, animal feces discovered inside

Posted July 29, 2013, at 7:05 p.m.

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BREWER, Maine — An East Summer Street home filled with black mold and animal feces was deemed a health hazard by a Superior Court judge in late June and was demolished Monday by city crews, City Manager Steve Bost said.

“The central issue, besides just filth, was the mold,” he said. “The mold had permeated the structure.”

In addition, “There were rooms with probably an inch and a half to two inches of dog and cat feces,” Bost added. “I have never seen anything like it.”

Pictures of the house submitted in court show a residence filled with debris and feces, with visible black mold growing on the walls, floors and ceiling. Black mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum among other names, has been linked to respiratory health problems in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Other photos show a ceiling failing from apparent water damage and the pile of debris found by those who approached the back door.

“It was just absolutely atrocious,” City Solicitor Joel Dearborn said Monday. “The pictures tell the story.”

The house, owned by Debra L. Fogg, caught the attention of the city last fall when city officials noticed trash and debris was piling up around the three story residence. Code Enforcement Officer Ben Breadmore contacted Fogg about doing an inspection, but she repeatedly canceled, so the city filed for an administrative inspection warrant in April through the Penobscot Judicial Center, Dearborn said.

A hearing was held in March and the city was awarded access to the building. Breadmore said he had looked in the windows and knew there was a mess, but didn’t understand the extent of the mold damage and debris until he entered the building.

“It was unfit for human habitation,” the code enforcement officer said of the dwelling.

“It was a danger to Debra Fogg and her neighbors,” Dearborn said.

“We had a variety of professionals go in there and look at the home and they all drew the same conclusion — it was a health hazard,” Bost said.

A dangerous building complaint was filed April 2 and a hearing in front of Superior Court Justice Kevin Cuddy was held on June 19. Cuddy condemned the home and gave Fogg seven days to get her stuff out. She told the judge that she could fix the issues, but did not file an appeal, Dearborn said.

“She had not had running water in that home for seven years,” Bost said. “There was no water, no plumbing and no running toilet. She paid her electric bill to run an electric heater in the winter. She lived there over the winter and into the spring.”

Fogg has been living at a variety of different locations ever since, including area shelters, Dearborn said. A message left for Fogg at a Bangor shelter for comment was not immediately returned.

“No one should have to live like this,” the city manager said. “Staff here have made a considerable effort to find her other living arrangements and have been working with Brewer Housing Authority to that end.”

Three cats living at the home were removed by the animal control officer and taken to the Bangor Humane Society and any items of value inside the home were removed and placed into storage before the home was demolished, Bost said.

“I watched the structure go down today and it was just laden with mold, black and white,” the city manager said. “The smell was so overpowering we had to leave. It was really, really bad.”

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