Victims of Springfield apartment fire claim it had safety issues
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Tenants of a Springfield apartment that caught on fire last week are coming forward, claiming the apartment had safety issues that may have endangered them.
The fire was at a complex on 1st Street on July 5. It left one person injured and 30 people homeless.
Now, Eugene-Springfield Fire Department is investigating their own safety concerns.
One tenant had a harrowing story. She said she and her two daughters were trapped on the balcony of the burning apartment.
It's been a little over a week since the fire, but for Angela Floyd and her two daughters, the memories are still fresh and painful.
“They jumped in the middle of the bed, thought it was a fire again,” Angela said, “I had to go show them it was the sunset. We're looking for counseling.”
With Floyd and her daughters trapped on the balcony of the burning apartment, they were prepared to jump.
“We were going to jump, so they broke the neighbor’s window, Nate did, and threw the girls through the window,” Angela recalled.
They said their main escape--a gated doorway--was locked and bolted.
We asked owner and property manager Cecil Hodges if he spoke with the fire marshal about the blocked exit.
Hodges said he was concerned about the tenants’ worries many times. He said no one had any complaints about fire safety before the fire.
“I have concerns and they're deep,” Hodges said. “I'm as deeply involved as anybody else, probably more so.”
Eugene-Springfield Fire Department confirmed with us they have their own concerns, one of which is proper exits and escapes in the apartment.
As we were talking with Hodges, another resident arrived with a concern of his own.
He claimed the apartment was equipped with fire extinguishers that expired in 1995.
We asked Hodges about it.
“I immediately went over there, I took those three fire extinguishers…four of them…I took them to the A-1 Fire Protection people this morning,” said Hodges.
Eugene-Springfield Fire says expired extinguishers are a violation, but in this situation, it didn't impact the recent apartment fire.
The tenant, Martin, is hoping to work with Hodges on improving the apartment.
“He's responsible, ultimately, for the lack of maintenance on things,” said Martin, “so that's what we're working on, and he seems to be open at some level to look at it.
“I'm open all the time,” said Hodges. “I wouldn't say that…wouldn't say that.”
The Eugene-Springfield Fire Department says they're communicating with the City of Springfield Building Department to make sure those safety issues are fixed as the apartment is rebuilt.
Springfield Police are helping families displaced by the fire with funds from the Chett Program.