Resident Shares Living Experience at Silver Spring Building
Two fires – one on July 5 and another on July 8 – left hundreds of Silver Spring residents without power.
People living at University Towers Condominiums said it was a frustrating situation. Some are reaching out for government agencies for help.
One tenant has been living with his family in the Silver Spring condominium since 2012. He asked to remain anonymous. The resident says he spent hours inside of his car while waiting to be allowed back in his apartment during the second fire. His one-year-old son and wife were with him.
“We were in the car most of the time, and later we had a place to go for the night,” he tells MyMCMedia.org.
Montgomery County firefighters evacuated residents from the apartments after an electrical fire started in the basement and spread through the building on July 8.
The fire caused a power outage in the 15-story building. More than 1,000 residents were affected, according to fire officials.
The resident we spoke with also said his apartment had water leaking and mice infestation. He was also concerned about the elevator license expiration day. In a photograph he shared with MyMCMedia, the elevator inspection certificate appears to have expired on April 17, 2015.
MyMCMedia reached out to the Maryland Department of Labor and Regulation, and an official confirmed the April expiration date.
Maureen O’Connor, the communication director at the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, said the department is responsible for inspecting public buildings, however, private property owners are responsible for setting up inspection dates.
O’Connor said they received information that University Towers had an inspection scheduled for June 9. Inspectors found violations that did not reflect the safety of the elevators, which had to be resolved before the department renews the license. As of July 10, O’Connor said the department is waiting to receive further information about the inspection.
O’Connor added there is a possibility a civil penalty of $5,000 dollars if the building continues to operate with an expired elevator license.
MyMCMedia has also reached out to Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
Clarence J. Snuggs, the department’s director, said the condominium has two buildings and there have been eight complaints for the past 18 months- two for rodent infestations, two about water leak, one for lack of hot water, and three about snow removal.
He said the department notified the property owners and gave them a deadline to have the issues resolved. Snuggs confirmed on July 10 that these complaints were resolved.
Tony Martella with the condominium’s property management company, Comsource, told MyMCMedia that he has been in touch with the manager on site about the building’s situation since the fires.
Martella confirmed the building has a problem with mice infestation, but he says it was “thoroughly” treated in February.
“In addition to that, there’s a contract in place for regular weekly services where homeowners can contact the office,” Martella said.
Martella also confirmed the management company will “expedite” the elevators inspection situation.
The resident we spoke with also contacted Councilmember Nancy Navarro’s office and received a response from Navarro’s chief of staff Adam Fogel stating that he contacted officials from the Department of Permitting Services, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Office of Consumer Protection, and the Department of Health and Human Services about the issues.
UPDATED, July 8, 2:25 p.m.- Montgomery Couty fire official said electricity was restored at 2:45 a.m. on July 8 and emergency generator continues to operate in the 15-story building in Silver Spring. There is still no air conditioning or hot water. Fire alarms are back on, a fire official said. The building had two electrical fires in […]