N.H. Safety Inspectors Empty 4 Apartment Buildings Over Fire Risk

March 20, 2007

Residents of four apartment buildings in Berlin, New Hampshire have been ordered to move out after fire safety inspectors found serious violations.

The state fire marshal’s office has been working with the city to inspect the city’s approximately 500 multifamily homes after several were destroyed in recent fires. In January, three people were killed in a fire that gutted two apartment buildings, and two more buildings were heavily damaged in another fire late last month.

Fifty buildings were inspected last Wednesday and another 50 inspections were set for Thursday. Authorities say the first round uncovered violations ranging from missing smoke alarms and too much trash to serious structural problems.

Inspectors ordered residents out of one building because one apartment did not include an adequate way to get out during a fire. Authorities said the residents of the three other buildings would have been in imminent danger should a fire break out. A total of 45 people, including 10 children, lived in the four affected buildings.

The city launched a program in June aimed at inspecting all its multifamily homes, many of which are deteriorating and date back to the heyday of the paper industry, when the city’s population was more than double what it is today. About 100 had been inspected before the recent fires, when the state stepped in to help.

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