Conducting crime scene restoration is not for the faint of heart. It takes a highly qualified company and employees with an ironclad will that can stomach the sights, smells and emotional side of this business. This case study scene was unlike any we had ever experienced in our more than half a century in the construction and restoration business.
On this particular day, Kowalski Construction was called to respond to a unique situation from local law enforcement. Police asked us to secure a home after making forced entry for an unanswered wellness check. To say the scene quickly escalated into a massive operation would be an understatement. Almost immediately, thousands of rats were discovered living both in and out of the home. The homeowner was discovered deceased inside, but police learned she had lived alone for years and was a hoarder. She had also cared for 13 large snakes, including pythons and boa constrictors.
The rats were used to feed these snakes and once the homeowner passed away, the rats quickly multiplied. You can imagine how fast that happened as police estimate the homeowner had been deceased for up to six months. The rats eventually escaped their cages and began looking for food. The story quickly became of major news interest, with daily live broadcasts from the scene and unhappy neighbors concerned about their nearby properties. In search of food, neighbors were seeing rats as far as three streets away.
Almost immediately, police were forced to call in city officials to help with the public situation created in the neighborhood. The local municipality quickly took over care of the property due to it being a public nuisance from the pests and overwhelming odor. City workers called 12 different exterminating companies to try and help with the situation. Due to manpower labor shortages and the immense size of the project, none of these companies were able to perform the work.
After our initial work of boarding up the home, Kowalski Construction was called back out again to help city representatives gain access inside. At that point, we realized there were several more access points that needed securing in order to prevent the rats from escaping outside. This included the garage as well as a large, broken window behind an overgrown bush.
City officials were very concerned on several fronts, including that the homeowner had no living relatives to manage the ongoing situation and that none of the exterminating companies they had contacted could manage the job. Always wanting to provide the best service possible, Kowalski Construction worked with the city to set up a plan. Having been in business in Arizona for so many years, we have partnered with many companies. We called one of our partner exterminating companies to work with us to handle the massive job of removing all the rats wreaking havoc in the neighborhood.
As the news coverage continued unendingly, another situation began unfolding. Knowing there were live animals in the home and around the neighborhood, multiple animal rights activists began protesting on scene. That only made our job more difficult. To ensure we could keep all the rodents inside, we determined the best way to contain the situation was to fence off the property and tent the home to complete our work. We began by cutting back all of the overgrown bushes and trees outside, and then masking up the home. At that point, our exterminating partner could position traps around the house and place rat treatment inside. It also allowed us to set up ozone generators to deplete the oxygen inside.
Kowalski Construction made several sweeps of the home, boarding up even the most minute opening, as well as proceeding with the trauma cleanup inside. This portion of the job was immense as we proceeded to take more than eight dumpsters full of debris out of a 1,400 square foot house. Once all of this was complete, the exterminators continued to treat the home for more than two weeks to ensure all of the rats were completely removed. Once the pest control portion of the job was done, our staff cleaned and disinfected every surface, including the ceiling, walls, cabinets and floors.
As there truly was no responsible party in this particular situation, our emergency service fees were donated free of charge. Kowalski Construction makes it a point to be a good neighbor in our community and work hand in hand with police and firefighters on all public safety issues in our Arizona neighborhoods.