EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 13, 2013

Getting out of harm's way

30 families leave building with partially collapsed roof

LAWRENCE — Tenants of an Inman Street apartment building damaged during the weekend blizzard were allowed to stay in their apartments until Monday even though part of the roof had collapsed over their heads.

By Monday, after a lengthy meeting at the 6 Inman St. site between Fire and Building Department officials, as well as the owner, it was decided that the 30 families living there should be evacuated immediately.

Yesterday, former tenants continued streaming out of the building, carrying their belongings with them and climbing into cabs and cars and driving away.

Fire and city building officials say that while the tenants were never in danger, the building’s roof was determined to be in a precarious state. They also found that one of the other buildings in the complex also has some structural problems, but that the tenants can remain.

The problems all started, said tenants, Saturday morning during the historic blizzard that dropped up to two feet of snow across the region, driven by near-hurricane force winds.

“This happened Saturday morning,” said Jorge Lora, 37, who lived in Apt. 20 on the second floor for about a year with his two children. “Everyone in the building heard the sound of the roof breaking. And then they waited until last night (Monday) to tell everyone.”

Lora said he got a call at 6:30 p.m. Monday telling him he had to get out immediately. He returned to his apartment, got his children, and is now staying in a hotel.

“I’m moving everything,” he said, as a friend boxed up his kitchen belongings. “I don’t want to live here anymore.”

Lawrence Fire Chief Jack Bergeron said the first he heard about it was when the fire department got a single-alarm call Sunday morning at 6 Inman St.

“The initial call came in for water leaking through the ceiling” in one of the third-floor apartments, he said. “When the crew got on scene, they looked for the source of water. They went into the attic space and saw the partial roof collapse. A vent pipe went up through roof and water was leaking through that one spot.”

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