Were you able to watch any of the National Fallen Firefighter memorial services over the weekend? At least I hope you were able to view the lead-in program that was shown each day. It was an excellent background report on the memorial in Emmitsburg and how it has been such a successful focal point for the families of the firefighters who have perished on the job. It was a great production, and I want to thank WUSA-TV once again for permitting us to carry the live-stream programming on our website here.
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Some people have been commenting and asking about my “dollar store” updates and wondering just what’s up with that? So let me take a few minutes and explain why I have been watching these things. It has been quite a few months now since I noticed that an unusually high number of fires had been occuring in so-called dollar stores and almost all of them have been arsons or “undetermined” causes. Naturally, there were some exceptions. Another thing that I noticed was that they weren’t concentrated on one specific corporate chain. There are about 3 major chains as well as hundreds of local mom-and-pop stores that sell that type of merchandise. I didn’t have any theories about what was going on, I was just curious and observant about it.
Then one day my sub-conscious data bank sent a message up to the frontal lobes reminding me about a fire that we reported on last year in May, 2007, that involved a very large warehouse in Chicago (STORY HERE).
It was a 4-alarm affair that gutted the huge facility that was a distribution center for a wholesale supplier of dollar stores. And that thought led me to recall a situation back in the mid-1970′s when there was an ongoing “war” between the A & P Grocery chain and the New Jersey mafia organization.
I can’t remember if it was a unionization battle or something to do with the supply chain, but I believe it was the latter. The mafia is very big on controlling services and supplies to profitable businesses. During this time, A & P was experiencing a string of major fires that were causing total burnouts of their stores. But it wasn’t blatant in that they weren’t happening frequently, nor in any particular geographic area. It was only happening once every few months and occurring in different states, fairly widely spread out. Keep in mind that this was before computers were used to store law enforcement information and not even close to network sharing of events and trends. There was no “trigger” to alert fire marshals and investigators to a pattern developing nationwide. And when an organized crime “torch” does his job, there isn’t anything left to indicate a cause. No gas chromatography in use then, nor any hydrocarbon-sniffing dogs.
But the A & P corporate management sure knew what was going on. They saw the results and were constantly getting the threats and warnings. But they resisted, refusing to sell their soul to the devil. When they refused to buckle under, the mafia raised the stakes and started murdering assistant store managers. They’d usually nail them when they were leaving after locking up the store at night. And that’s what broke the case open. Sacrificing a store is one thing, but having your own people murdered is a different matter altogether. This brought the FBI in after the company let them know what was happening and then it was only a matter of time before they moved in and closed down the murder ring.
Fast-forward to now. We start with a massive fire that upset the supply chain of products that are 99% imported from Asia. And anyone who works in an urban area knows that there really are organized Asian crime syndicates. In the last couple of years there has been a large expansion of so-called dollar stores nationwide. Of the many dollar store fires that we’ve seen every month, most of them arsons, (albeit many of them were started by juveniles), at least one or two of them every month have been total burnouts.
photo by Larry Shapiro
Now please don’t think of me as some sort of conspiracy nut. That’s not what I’m up to. But I am pointing out that the classic indicators of some sort of battle over the franchise to control a very lucrative business (supplying a rapidly-growing business) are there. All I’m asking is that you become aware of this possibility when you have a fire in one of these places. I know that there are a lot of fire marshals who read Firegeezer and I’m asking you to consider setting up some sort of information exchange to just see if there is any genuine pattern to these events. Now that everybody’s computerized and on the internet, this can be done without a whole lot of trouble.
Maybe I’m way out in left field here, I don’t know. What do you think?
Well, let’s come back to reality and get this equipment checked out now. I need to get some more coffee going. See you later in the day room.