Multiple fires lead to safety concerns at troubled north side apartment complex

CBS4 Investigates
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INDIANAPOLIS — Community members and fire officials expressed concern about safety at a north side apartment complex after a series of recent fires.

The Indianapolis Fire Department has responded to three fires at Lakeside Pointe at Nora apartments since mid-February, including two in the past three weeks. At least one fire displaced residents and another damaged the complex’s main office building. All of the fires were deemed to be accidental and not investigated as arson, according to IFD.

Two weeks ago, a community task force met with city, county and state leaders to discuss the future of the property. Owners will soon face a large tax bill after a county tax board revoked a charitable tax exemption in February.

“Change really needs to come to this property. We’re talking about health violations, leaking sewage, big, big issues and now we’re talking about fire,” said Claire Holba, Executive Director of Patchwork Indy and leader of the task force.

IFD officials reportedly encouraged management to better secure buildings and vacant units. An official also expressed concern about co-mingling of vacant and occupied units throughout the property.

According to a letter from management to residents last September, three fires around that time were believed to be intentionally set inside vacant units.

Holba and community groups have spent years trying to get the property cleaned up. Marion County Health Department inspectors have levied thousands of dollars in fines for failure to repair issues.

One resident, who asked CBS4 not to identify her due to fear of retaliation, showed a gaping hole in her living room ceiling, which she said had not been fixed for almost two weeks.

“It’s horrible … it smells sometimes because they didn’t come clean the carpet, the carpet’s soaked,” she said. “It’s just like they don’t care.”

The resident said that emergency maintenance did show up to address the issue when it first happened, but since then no one had followed up to fix the hole.

“The manager said that roofers were coming out (one) day, so I had somebody wait for them and they said that they never came,” the resident said.

CBS4 reached out to Aloft Management, which manages the property, for comment:

“Since the fires began at Lakeside it has been deeply saddening to us as well as our residents. It has been very disheartening knowing several intentional fires have been set and we are continuing to work with the authorities in every means possible to combat these and will continue to do so.  Our residents well being is our number one priority and we will continue to focus on this in the coming weeks, months and years.”

Meagan Scott, Regional Manager

Holba hoped to work with city and state agencies to determine steps to further encourage a turnaround at the complex in the coming months.

“We need to make sure we’re really taking this seriously before something tragic happens,” Holba said.

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