Apr 1, 2013 12:03 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Pioneer fire victim's family reacts to convicted arsonist going free

TUCSON - A man who lost close family members in the Pioneer Hotel fire is not upset that the man convicted of arson and murder will be free this week.

The Downtown fire killed 28 people in 1970.

Lee Davis is the nephew of Harold and Margaret Seinfeld. They lived on the top floor and died of smoke inhalation.

"We were raised without a father," Lee said, "so Mr. Seinfeld was like our father, and she was just like a second mother."

Lee held back tears when he talked about seeing the fire more than 40 years ago.

"It never looked good," he said, "but if you knew them, you could just feel their strength. And somehow, I thought they would make it."

Lee was not concerned Louis Taylor, the man convicted of killing them, was getting out of prison.

"Their death overshadowed everything, not who did it, not how they did it," he said. "It's not our job to judge him."

The Arizona Justice Program is a group of lawyers who took Taylor's case. He was 16 at the time of the fire.

A new review by arson investigators, including one from the Tucson Fire Department, revealed the cause of the fire is undetermined.

Taylor will plea to 28 lesser charges with a sentence of 42 years, the time he has already served.

The Steinfelds ran a department store with their name on it and built the hotel across the street.

"Tucson didn't have anything like a first couple," Lee said, "but they would come about as close as you could imagine."

A television news report even mentioned them by name after their death, describing them as "a prominent Tucson department store owner and his wife."


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