September 08, 2015 - 9:00 PM
VERNON - Several residents of a Vernon apartment complex were forced out of their homes when a neighbouring unit exploded and now, nearly a month later, they still can’t return home, according to one displaced tenant.
Resident James Halpert, who gave only his first and middle name, has lived in his Regency Gardens apartment on Okanagan Avenue for the past two-and-a-half years, but was unexpectedly forced out Aug. 14 when an alleged marijuana drug lab in another tenant’s unit exploded. According to police, two men were in the process of extracting marijuana oil in the bathroom when the operation blew up. The pair suffered severe burns and were airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital. A police investigation remains ongoing, and charges could be laid against the individuals.
Fire damage was mostly contained to the bathroom, but according to Halpert, the third-floor explosion caused the toilet and plumbing valves to blow, which led to damage in lower units.
“It leaked down below,” he says. “There was water pouring out of my light fixtures and corners in the walls.”
Halpert, and by his count roughly half a dozen tenants from four other units, had to wait for hours while police examined and secured the scene before they could get into their homes. He says water damage ruined many of his possessions, but the worst news is that he and the other tenants are being told they can’t come back for five months. That’s the estimated time it will take to repair all the damage.
Halpert spent the first few nights in a hotel, but is now renting another suite while he deals with insurance and waits for the renovation work to wrap up.
“It’s overall just a bad situation,” he says.
The inconvenience is one thing, but the biggest issue for him is the disrespectful behaviour that started it all.
“What troubles me is the complete disregard for peoples’ safety,” he says.
Fortunately, no one else was hurt, but Halpert says residents still suffered harm in the sense they were forced from their homes. He says the resident that started the fire had only been living in the apartment for two weeks, and hopes building owners will go to greater pains to screen individuals before accepting renters.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015