NBC 10 I-Team: Providence Fire Department releases new photos of fatal fire
The Providence Fire Department on Tuesday released new photos from a condemned house in Olneyville that was destroyed in a fatal fire.
The photos document just how dangerous the conditions were at 110 Bowdoin St., from faulty wiring, space heaters, as well as extension cords.
Despite all of that, tenants stayed there -- with deadly results.
Councilman Michael Correia said the owner of the home also owned a vacant lot nearby, which was crammed with junk.
"Property owners, landlords -- you need to maintain your property," Correia said. "You need to keep them up to code."
City records obtained by the NBC 10 I-Team note that the owner, Dexter Jackson, didn't do that.
The documents show multiple violations dating back to 2006, including a hand-written inspection report just days before the fire.
"House is a mess," an inspector wrote five days ago about the triple-decker. "No heat in house, no running water ... Occupants were running space heaters, numerous propane torches throughout."
An email released by the city on Tuesday shows Jackson told firefighters that "his electrician was scheduled to work on the problem the next day."
In the end, tenants were allowed to stay.
While the landlord was written up time and time again, the NBC 10 I-Team asked Correia if some of the blame also lies with the city.
"There was breakdown in communications, in my opinion, somewhere along the line," Correia said. "I don't know if you can blame the city 100 percent. We had him in Housing Court."
NBC 10 LEGAL ANALYST Mark Dana said Rhode Island law gives all cities and towns the power to move tenants to another location when life and safety are at risk.
"Under those circumstances, it should have been shut down," Dana said. "Do what you have to do to make these people safe, and then recoup your losses from the landlord down the road."
Dana went on to note that "this is a case where it was clear that there was a danger and safety issue. As a result, I think they're going to be responsible."
The NBC 10 I-Team asked Mayor Jorge Elorza, who is a former Housing Court judge, for an interview. He declined not once, but twice.