Low income complex called 'fire hazard'; residents told to leave

6:23 PM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, FL --  Residents of a low income housing complex located east of Ybor City have been given 72 hours to get out after officials call the building a fire hazard.

"From Tampa Fire Rescue's perspective the life safety issues are in abundance," said Tampa Fire Rescue Spokesperson Debra Sue Warshefski shortly after officials posted notices with the news.

Officials say the building at 3715 East 7th Avenue has a host of building and fire code violations like a sprinkler system that doesn't work, no fire alarms, locks on the outside of rooms, exposed wires and walls that don't extend to the ceiling.

In addition, the building is zoned industrial meaning it's not zoned for a 25-room low income housing complex.

Tampa Fire Marshal Milton Jenkins told 10 News they don't want to give the impression they don't care because he sees the city's actions as being just the opposite.

"If we allow it like this, and something would happen, then people would say 'you all really didn't' care because if you cared, you would have done something'. And so that's why we're here to try and correct the problem," Jenkins said.

Mike Arodak owns the property and he says he charges $85 a week for people to live in the building, which he says used to be a gym. He says about 30 people currently call the building home.

"It's like I have a baby and they killed my baby," he said about the notices that were posted on Tuesday.

Arodak stressed he is simply trying to help those people who are down and out, and he told 10 News he didn't think there were any major safety issues with the building.

"No, because I see something hazardous, I remove it immediately."

The city is helping the tenants find a new place to live with Tampa Fire Rescue providing what it calls overnight "fire watch" until everyone is out of the building.

Officials note Tuesday's actions should also not come as a surprise to Arodak, as they say he has been warned about the violations in the past.

Follow 10 News Reporter Preston Rudie on twitter @PrestonRudie

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