GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Almost one year ago, a fire killed five children and rattled our community.
“It was a very horrific day for the community,” Franca Jalloh said.
Jalloh knew the family who lived inside the unit. She’s the founder of Jalloh’s Upright Services, an agency that helps refugees and immigrants.
Jalloh said the parents of the five children killed are expecting a baby girl on June 1.
“After everything that has gone on, they are managing and trying to rebuild,” Jalloh said.
On Tuesday, FOX8 went by the apartments on the corner of Summit Avenue and Cone Boulevard. Crews were fixing the sidewalks and contractors were inside the damaged unit.
Investigators say unattended cooking caused the fire back in May 2018, but the tragedy started a conversation about housing conditions.
Since then, FOX8 has monitored the progress, from code violations to evictions and repairs.
In the last year, Greensboro created a new ordinance to give the city greater flexibility for entering an apartment after violations are discovered. City officials have also learned how important it is to educate and inform tenants, especially those with language barriers, on their rights.
“We found a lot of shortcomings in the last year and now we have to figure out how to plug those holes,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said. “We have to do lots of things better and I believe that there will be new ordinances enacted.”
Jalloh also said agencies that work with refugees and immigrants are now doing a better job of working together.
“The bare minimum that has been given in the past is definitely not enough,” Jalloh said. “I think all agencies in Greensboro are working towards improving the services.”
Two renters currently at the complex said they have not had any problems and praised the landlords.
Vaughan said the city is preparing to take legal action against landlords who owe them money in fines. The city says the people who run the Summit-Cone Apartments, the Agapion family, owe them around $650,000.
Arco Realty sent us a statement saying “our thoughts and prayers have been with the Mugabo family since the fire.” The statement, below, also said Arco spent $350,000 repairs at the complex. There was no mention of the fines.
Full Arco Realty statement
The entire Arco Realty family shares in the sadness and grief of the over the tragic loss of life during the fire at the Summit Avenue apartment complex nearly one year ago. Our thoughts and prayers have been with the Mugabo family since the fire.
In response to questions about the status of the Summit Apartments:
- No tenants currently reside at 3100 Summit Avenue, the apartment building in which the fire occurred.
- Arco has spent approximately $350,000 on repairs, renovations, and improvements to the Summit Avenue apartment complex since the fire to ensure it meets or exceeds all City code requirements and community standards.
- Forty-one of the forty-two apartment units have passed all building inspections and received certificates of occupancy.
- The last apartment—the apartment in which the fire occurred—is in the final stages of repair and inspection. That apartment has already passed four (4) inspections. We expect to complete work on this unit in a matter of days, and that it will pass its final inspection and receive a certificate of occupancy shortly thereafter.
As we reflect on the fire and its aftermath, members of the Greensboro community should remember that the Greensboro Fire Department and other local authorities thoroughly investigated the cause of the fire and determined that it was caused by unattended cooking. No subsequent inspections have found any code violations at 3100 Summit Avenue that caused or worsened the fire. The Fire Department determined that a pot of food left on an electric range overheated and caught fire in the kitchen because the tenants left the burner “on” under the pot for several hours before the fire. This fire did not result from any negligent act or omission of Arco Realty.
Arco Realty is committed to providing safe, comfortable, affordable housing to the Greensboro community. Arco Realty has received numerous awards in recent years for improving its properties throughout the area and for its commitment to inclusion and diversity. Arco Realty was the first provider of affordable rental housing in Greensboro to integrate its facilities without regard to race, faith, or country of origin. Arco Realty was founded by a second-generation immigrant who served as an infantry scout in the South Pacific during World War II, earning three Purple Hearts after being wounded in combat operations.