UPDATE: Grace Place cited for fire hazards prior to last week's blaze

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by 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 10 at 4:53 PM

Norfolk apartment fire

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UPDATE 10/10: Officials from Grace Place say residents living on the first floor should be moving back in Thursday.  It is our hope that second floor residents will be able to move in over the weekend.  We still have not received word from our contractors as to the dollar extent of the damage on the third floor nor when we will be able to move those residents back into their apartments.

UPDATE 10/7:  Officials with Norfolk Fire-Rescue say since 2012, Grace Place has been cited with serious violations that pose fire hazards:

  • 7/5/13 – Gas leak to a water heater
  • 6/18/13-Gas leak involving a heating unit
  • 4/14/13-Stove that was tagged after the oven stated smoking when the occupant turned the stove on. There was no fire
  • 7/23/12-Gas leak from a stove
  • 5/23/12- Dryer duct/lint

10/4 1:30 p.m. UPDATE:Temporary shelter in place for 26 residents; remaining residents are either staying with relatives or have found other accommodations, Chris Ragon, spokesman for Retirement Housing Foundation which runs Grace Place, told WVEC.com.
We don’t expect to have be able to move them back into their apartments until Monday, if cleared by fire and police, and then it will probably only be the residents with apartments on the first floor, he explained.
No cost estimate on damage; company is working to determine that and keep the building secure. 
 

UPDATE 5:45 p.m.: Officials at Grace Place say one resident was admitted to Norfolk General for smoke inhalation, one was treated and released and the other victims' status is unknown. 

Currently residents have been evacuated to Norfolk State University.  Residents will not be allowed into their apartments until Monday.   

Grace Place employees are working to determine what remaining residents will need housing and then will begin finding temporary shelter. 

A number of residents have special needs, so workers say finding temporary housing is a little more complicated. 

Fire officials say the cause is still unknown.  Most of the damage was on the third floor, along with smoke damage on the second floor. 

NORFOLK - Three  people were rescued when fire swept through an independent living facility for older adults in Norfolk.

Crews were called to Grace Place, a 40-unit complex, at 2735 Corprew Avenue around 10:30 a.m.

Five residents were taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, said Battalion Chief Julian Williamson.

Images show firefighters going to the third floor to rescue a man who was couldn't get out of his apartment while other crews searched all three floors to make sure everyone was okay.

One woman talked about what happened inside.

"The fire alarm went off and so I grabbed my bag and came on out the back steps. I came around here and saw the smoke," said one woman.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue's Mass Casualty bus was on the scene to help residents who need it.

Meantime, a bus from nearby Norfolk State University was picking up some residents. NSU has offered some dorm space as temporary relief, said Battalion Chief Williamson.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

According to the Grace Place Website, the property is a subsidized, independent living community for older adults and people who are mobility impaired and the complex has 40 residential apartments.

Grace Place Director of Communications Chris Ragon says they are still determining the extent of the damage and how many residents will need temporary housing.

Following the fire, Ragon released the following statement:

Our manager at Grace Place has more than 5 years of experience at an RHF community as a manager and a number of years before that as the Maintenance Manager at a number of RHF communities.  He has been the manager at Grace Place since November of 2012.
 
During his watch, three of those red tags (that you mention in your e-mail) were issued, and he immediately fixed the issues and notified the Fire Marshall who documented that the issue had been resolved satisfactorily.
 
Chief Williamson (Norfolk Fire Department PIO) can verify that our manager, within the past year, has had Norfolk Fire come out to discuss with our residents Fire Safety and what to do to prevent fires and what to do in case a fire occurs.
 
The safety of our residents in all of our communities (including the four HUD 202/8 communities we sponsor in Norfolk) are of major concern to us. We require our managers to host annual meetings with their residents on a number of safety issues. 

Chris Ragon
Director of Communications
Retirement Housing Foundation


 

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