South Bend city officials tackle fire safety at Park Jefferson - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend city officials tackle fire safety at Park Jefferson Apartments


South Bend city leaders tackled the issue of fire safety during a meeting on Tuesday at Park Jefferson Apartments, but officials are releasing little information about what they plan to do to make the apartments safer.

The fire safety meeting, which was not open to the public, comes on the heels of a devastating fire at Park Jefferson less than two weeks ago. The January 6 fire forced dozens out of their homes. Firefighters have been called out to four major fires at the apartment complex since 2003, a point that is raising concerns about the safety of the apartment complex.

The apartment management met with officials from the South Bend fire department, building department, and mayor's office for the meeting lasting an hour and a half, but when officials walked out of the leasing office, none were willing to talk on-camera.

Mike Schmuhl, Mayor Buttigieg's chief of staff, instead released a brief statement consisting of two sentences: "We had a productive meeting at Park Jefferson and the City will be available to help the complex with safety recommendations. We both have a common goal, which is the safety of all City of South Bend residents."

It's not clear what those safety recommendations are, how soon, and if they'll be implemented.

Residents like 28-year-old Jasmin Kasprzak, who has lived at Park Jefferson Apartments since October 2011, were hoping for answers after Tuesday's meeting. She is still unclear on the cause of the most recent fire, and is concerned about the safety of her apartment.

"Like, it worries me," she said. "We could be asleep, and you know, just in the middle of the night—oh, here comes a fire out of nowhere, so it's kind of scary."

83-year-old Charles Hooks told FOX 28 that if he had the means to move, he would.

"Right now, I'll just stay here and hope I don't get caught in the middle of a fire," said Hooks.

After the January 6 fire, South Bend fire officials said that the number of fires at Park Jefferson isn't out of the ordinary, especially given the number of people who live there.

They said the apartments are still safe and up to code, but residents are clearly still concerned.

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