EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 20, 2013

Gas service shutoffs make dangerous situations

(Continued)

Hileman said that on one side of the building, which was recently foreclosed on, the gas service is on. But on the other side, the gas service has been turned off to the salon and two occupied apartments. The rest of the apartments are not occupied, he said.

He said he has spoken to the tenants of the occupied apartments and told them they need to sign up for a gas account or face legal action in Housing Court.

Hileman said that other than the fact that the gas was shut off, the apartments are in good shape and “habitable.”

He didn’t know if any children lived in the building.

During the inspection, Hileman said he also discovered that a nearby grocery store didn’t have gas. He gave the owners of that store a citation as well, ordering them to get gas service.

Hileman said it’s not just a sanitary issue.

He spoke to the husband of the woman who owns the beauty salon and told him the fire could have been much worse.

“I said, ‘You don’t know how dangerous this is. There are people living in this building,’” Hileman said.

Lawrence fire Deputy John Marsh said the way the building is constructed, if not for the sprinkler system dampening the fire, the building would have gone up in flames in minutes.

“That would have been a raging inferno,” he said, noting that the structure is made up of two, triple-decker tenements that have been attached. “It would have been a bonfire.”

The property is owned by City National Bank of Los Angeles, which foreclosed on the property in August. According to the Registry of Deeds, the property carried a $685,000 mortgage. It is managed by CRE Management LLC of Pearl Street in Boston. A call to that office was not returned.

Assessed at $320,000, the property was formerly owned by Wade Willwerth.

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