Residents forced out after owner removes fire escapes

June 5, 2012 9:00:35 PM PDT
Residents of 2400 Webb Avenue in the Bronx, many with children, disabilities and pets, are being forced to pack up everything they have and move to a new home.

The evacuations come after the owners of the rent-stabilized apartment building put every single resident at risk by removing the fire escapes, leaving hundreds of tenants in a potential death trap.

The building had been under renovations. Then, once the city stumbled upon the missing lifelines, they jumped into action and slapped violations against the owner. On Monday, they made the very difficult decision to vacate.

By 6 p.m. on Tuesday, all residents must leave, meaning the victims had a mere 24 hours to pack up their lives. Extra security will be on every floor just in case. The fire chief says the building managers never really explained why.

It could be months before new fire escapes are installed, and many residents fear that this was all just a sinister ploy to get rid of them and jack up the rent.

The building's owner has offered to put the residents up in hotels until they can move back in.

Later on Tuesday, Tony Sclafani, the Associate Commissioner of Communications and Public Affairs for the NYC Department of Buildings released a statement saying that the engineer filed the wrong paperwork, and bypassed a city inspection that would have been launched if a permit to remove the fire escapes was filed.

The engineer's 48 other active projects are now under investigation.

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