JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After a massive fire at a Northwest Jacksonville apartment complex Tuesday night badly burned three children and their mother, an Action News Jax Investigation has uncovered a history of fire safety violations there.
The fire destroyed 12 families’ homes at Calloway Cove on Moncrief Road.
“People were running, screaming,” said witness Pamela Butler.
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Butler said she saw a man running into the burning apartment building to help a family who was trapped.
“The man had the baby in his arms just like this,” said Butler. “He said, 'Please, please look at him, he’s burning.'”
The apartment complex failed its city fire inspection last year.
The city fire marshal inspector found four fire code violations there in April 2018.
It passed reinspection six months later.
Action News Jax caught up with Jacksonville Fire Marshal Chief Kevin Jones after he met with his team in a nearby parking lot Wednesday.
“[I’m] wanting to know the actual true cause. And upon finding it, what can we do as a local municipality to incorporate that and make sure their apartment complexes who have gas appliances are safe,” said Jones.
Action News Jax also uncovered U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development inspectors found life-threatening health and safety deficiencies in Calloway Cove’s past three inspections.
A HUD spokesperson told Action News Jax that when inspectors find those significant deficiencies, they must be corrected immediately.
Action News Jax requested Calloway Cove’s full inspection and reinspection reports to make sure that happened.
HUD also found broken or missing smoke detectors during the apartment complex’s inspections in 2016 and 2015 but not during its most recent inspection in 2018.
Calloway Cove scored 82 out of 100 points on its February 2018 inspection; that falls in the range where
HUD doesn’t have to inspect it for another two years.
The apartment complex is in the middle of a massive renovation.
“The damaged building has yet to be renovated,” Millennia Housing Management, which owns the complex, said in a statement.
Action News Jax looked through more than 100 active permits for renovations at Calloway Cove; we did not find any permits for Building G, where the fire happened.
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