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Renters unclear when they can return to Barclay House Apartments after fire

(WVLT)
Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 5:55 PM EST
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Renters who lived at Barclay House Apartments are now required to find their own temporary housing while work continues to prepare the building to reopen.

The complex on Laurel Avenue near the University of Tennessee campus caught fire last week. Officials with the Knoxville Fire Department said a heating unit caught fire.

"I was lucky enough that I got out. I did open a door to nothing but smoke," said tenant Thomas Wahl. "I only had my phone and my keys."

Fire officials said they had to evacuate dozens of tenants when the fire happened overnight.

A City of Knoxville Fire Code Inspection Report noted Serve Pro has been on-site to clean up the building after the fire that affected mostly the fourth floor.

The report also listed items that are being repaired or added so the building can reopen. The items include the fire alarm system, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and lighting.

"Fire alarm system must be restored in all areas to be occupied prior to occupation by tenants," the report noted.

As of Monday, management was escorting renters into the building a few at a time to retrieve their belongings.

WVLT reached out to management for comment, but have not received a response.

On the front entrance to the apartment building, a note from apartment management said, "no admittance allowed to this building until further notice. If you are caught in this building, you are trespassing and will be arrested. We apologize for the inconvenience but this is for your safety!"

Wahl said he may have to use some of his own rental insurance to cover damaged belongings left behind after the fire. He and others are uncertain when they'll be able to move back in.

"We have been told that move in is going to happen," Wahl said. "But we don't know, we don't know a timeframe at all."

Wahl told WVLT he heard move-in could be in ten days, but believes that may not be an option anymore. According to the Wahl the fourth floor is being completely reconstructed because the person in question whose fire the apartment happened, didn't close his door. As a result, there is reportedly a lot of smoke damage on the fourth floor.

"Like I had my door closed and there's just smoke and ash across everything in my room," Wahl said.

Wahl's parents help him pay the $900 in monthly rent for his one-bedroom apartment at Barclay House Apartments. He is confident it will be cleaned up, but for now, he is having to find other accommodations.

Wahl said the Red Cross did give him a "little bit of money," but he is staying with a friend at another apartment complex.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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