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Site of fire that killed mother, three children, demolished in Utica

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - It was May 9, 2011 when Utica firefighters arrived at 937 Schuyler Street to find a wall of fire, making it impossible for them to rescue the mother and three young children inside the house.

Since then, the burned-out house has served as a painful reminder of the tragedy, but that changes after Thursday. That morning, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, Fire Chief Russell Brooks, Police Chief Mark Williams, and the neighborhood's councilman, David Testa, stood together to remember the lives that were lost there.

Someone memorialized Leida Santiago and her children, Julius, Matias and Sebastian, writing "RIP, Never Forgotten' on plywood used to board up the burned-out house. While no one wants to forget the family that lost their lives here, the charred home was not only a safety hazard, but a painful scar. City demolition crews started taking the structure down around 10 a.m. on Thursday.

Why has it taken a year?

Officials say it was tied up in court and the State Supreme Court finally gave the order for the city to take down the privately-owned house. The city plans to go after the owners of the structure for the cost of demolition.

Neighbors will not miss the dangerous eyesore, but they say its demolition doesn't mean the lives lost there will be forgotten.

"We did come over and memorialize with the family and we sympathize with the family for their loss but at the same time it was a danger. every time the wind blew you could see the metal going back and forth," says Jackie Jenkins.

Utica public works crews will be back on the scene Friday with dumpsters to haul away the debris from the demoished house.

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