Heating problem forces residents into the cold

December 7, 2007 9:19:32 PM PST
Residents of an Atlantic City apartment complex were forced out of their homes and into the cold on Friday night.

As residents of the School House Apartments were evacuated, anger set in. The frustration had been building for a week.

"They haven't been telling us anything. They keep telling us 'we're going to fix it, we're going to fix it.' But, they never do," said Amarila Harris.

"I have 5 children. I don't think that's right," said Eileen Whitehead.

Residents said management tried to stem the problem by providing space heaters, but for some residents it wasn't enough during these frigid nights.

"We've managed to use our ovens and hot plates, so we stayed pretty warm. Other than that we'd freeze," said another resident named Tony.

The Atlantic City Fire Department caught wind of the problem and those dangerous space heaters early Friday morning.

Code enforcement responded. Officials and the building's owner agreed to a 4:00 pm deadline to get the heat fixed. The deadline came and went.

"The building owners are making every effort they can, but it just didn't look like it came to fruition," said fire chief Dennis Brooks.

Displaced residents, with the help of the Red Cross, were bused to a motel across the street. A police presence will remain at building to make sure residents' belongings are protected.

"They're hoping to have the equipment fixed tomorrow (Saturday). If that doesn't happen, they'll be here the whole weekend," said Ben Maldonnado of the Red Cross.

The building's owner was unavailable for comment.

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