SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

June 14, 2014

Fire crews burn house teetering on Texas cliff

WHITNEY, Texas — Charred debris from a luxury cliff-side home fell 75 feet into a lake below on Friday after fire crews set the $700,000 retreat ablaze rather than wait for it to crumble into the water as the land faltered around it.

It took less than an hour for the fire to level the home above Lake Whitney, about 60 miles south of Fort Worth. Flames consumed exterior walls after crews spread bales of hay and fuel to ignite flames throughout the expansive home.

The ground around the home cracked and became unstable in recent months. Then, a few days ago, part of the land gave way beneath the 4,000-square-foot home, leaving pieces of the house dangling off the side of a cliff. Authorities condemned the home, and the owners, Robert and Denise Webb, consented to Friday’s burn.

Authorities said destroying the house was better than waiting for it to topple into Lake Whitney. The cost of removing mounds of debris from the lake could prove prohibitive.

Spectators in dozens of boats witnessed the demolition from a safe distance. Live television coverage shared the view of the spiraling black smoke coming from the gated resort community.

The Webbs purchased the home in 2012, but a few weeks ago were forced to remove their personal items and relocate. They expressed shock and sadness at losing their lake house.

The Webbs, who also have a home along Florida’s Miami Beach, told WTSP-TV on Thursday that the deterioration of their property has been hard to watch.

“You know, that’s my life there that we’re watching fall off,” Robert Webb said the day before the demolition.

Geologists and inspectors had told them before they purchased the land that the property was perfectly stable, “and so we bought it in good faith,” Webb said.

The house, built in 2007, was to have been left to his grandchildren, he said.

“It’s really tough, that house was special and I don’t even know why it was so special, but it was special to me,” Denise Webb said.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Chism attorney wants 'youthful offender' indictments dismissed

    Philip Chism's attorney will argue that the state's "youthful offender" law, which requires that the Danvers teen be tried as an adult in last fall's rape and murder of his teacher, is unconstitutional.
    In documents filed Monday, defense attorney Denise Regan contends that the statute, enacted in 1996, creates two classes of children within the court system, distinguishing them based solely on the charge.

    July 29, 2014

  • Whale watching boat snagged by lobster trap rope

    BOSTON (AP) — They weren't castaways, but like the tourists on Gilligan's Island, a group of whale watchers expecting only a three-hour tour got much more after their boat was snagged by a lobster trap rope off Massachusetts and they were forced to spend a long night at sea.

    July 29, 2014

  • Market Basket store managers vow to resign

    Store managers and assistant managers at Market Baskets in the area signed petitions Monday declaring they would work only for Arthur T. Demoulas, no matter who buys the grocery chain. "It was a voluntary petition," Salem store manager Dave Webber sa

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Former law student gets jail term for stealing jewels SALEM -- A former law student who prowled craigslist for people selling diamond jewelry, then robbed them, all while falsely claiming to be a cancer patient, was sent to jail Thursday. Jeffrey Rosenspan, 32, of Walpole, had 10 diamond rings -- as we

    July 29, 2014

  • sculpture Ipswich approaches gift of art cautiously, with good reason

    Art, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. Which is why politicians and public officials often seek to avoid making judgments on public art. A wrong decision can create a furor.

    That might explain the caution of Ipswich selectmen as resident Rick Silverman proposes to honor his late wife and grace the town with an elegant sculpture on the North Green. Treading lightly lest they offend or preemptively reject the offer, they voted last week to set up a board that will advise them on what is and what isn’t welcome in Ipswich’s public spaces.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos