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Company offers options to residents displaced by Ash Street fire

Friday, April 12, 2013 | 5:59 p.m. CDT; updated 8:43 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 13, 2013

COLUMBIA — Mills Apartments, the owner of Ash Street Place apartments, is refunding April rent and security deposits to residents displaced by a fire Tuesday.

Melissa DeCicco, the marketing manager for the St. Louis-based company, said it is referring residents to other buildings it owns in Columbia where they can finish their lease or start a new short-term lease, without application fees. 

A malfunctioning lighting fixture caused a fire at the 66-unit building on North Stadium Boulevard, making the building uninhabitable that night. Six apartments and the building's roof were heavily damaged, and other apartments have water and smoke damage, according to a news release from the Columbia Fire Department. No one was injured. 

The damage to the building and contents was estimated at $450,000.

The apartment is one of 55 buildings in 26 complexes in Columbia that have yet to install manual fire alarms, a provision in the 2009 International Fire Code that Columbia adapted in 2011, according to data provided by the Columbia Fire Department.

Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer said Wednesday that apartment complexes have one year from their first notification to install pull-down alarms. Mills Apartments owns 13 other buildings in four complexes that have yet to install pull-down alarms.

DeCicco said the company is receiving bids to install new alarms. The company has received one bid and is waiting for a few more before moving forward.

After the company accepts a bid, the Fire Department has to approve the plan and issue a permit before installation can begin. Fraizer said the review process takes 10 days. The department sent the first notification to Ash Street Place on Nov. 21, so the owner still has more than six months to make the change.

Fraizer said the department and the landlord aren't required to tell tenants if a building isn't up to code. DeCicco said the company doesn't have a procedure for telling residents because the building won't be out of code until November 2013.

The company bought Ash Street Place in 2010.

Supervising editor is Richard Webner.


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