Tenants evacuated from Hartford apartment building again as safety concerns linger

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HARTFORD -- Tenants at the Spring Street Apartments were greeted by Hartford police and officials with the city's Licenses and Inspections Department late Tuesday afternoon and told they needed to evacuate the premises.

A city inspector told Fox CT the building's fire escapes were not up to code and the issue likely won't be resolved for at least a week. Until then, tenants will stay at a Hartford Super 8 motel.

Residents like Kyle Hinds spent the night packing belongings into their cars in the rain. Hinds said the sudden evacuation was inconvenient not only because he had work early in the morning, but also because he has four children and doesn't want to break up their routine.

City-ordered evacuations are nothing new to the property.

In December, a Spring Street Apartments tenant fell through the bottom of a fire escape and suffered injuries. City inspectors mandated all tenants leave the building because the fire escape was rendered inaccessible, thus violating city safety code. Residents had to stay in a motel for multiple days as Christmas rapidly approached.

“This is going to be filled with gravel,” Norberto Olmo, the property manager for the Spring Street Apartments, told Fox CT in December.

He was pointing to the hollowed-out area where the fire escape landing collapsed and added that it was not built right decades ago, unbeknownst to the landlord. Olmo, in that December interview, said all four of the complex’s fire escapes would be replaced with the help of an engineer and architect.

"They know it’s an emergency so they’re on it, they’re going to be on it,” said Olmo of the landlord, nine months ago.

The city official at the apartments on Tuesday said the fire escapes were torn down but are incomplete, so tenants should not have been allowed back inside.

Hinds said he moved in in March and while he was told about the December evacuation, he said he was never informed the fire escapes were not finished. He said he is frustrated but understands this second evacuation.

"You have to take it as it comes. Like I said, I have four kids and safety is everything with me. I don't want the risk of having that over my head," Hinds said.