On Wednesday, workers found leaks in the other two buildings. The mayor and city officials declared the complex uninhabitable and ordered everyone out while repairs could be made, said Building Commissioner Frank Owens. A local church was designated as a temporary shelter for the displaced residents, The Herald Bulletin reported.
Arbor Village owner Tom Stanley had offered space heaters to those who chose to remain Tuesday, before everyone was ordered to leave.
He said the apartments would have been safe with the gas shut off while repairs were being made, and he thinks city and utility officials were being “paranoid” because of the Nov. 10 explosion in Indianapolis that destroyed or damaged dozens of homes and killed a married couple.
“They're not allowing the proper time for us to do our job,” Stanley said. “They're demanding things that aren't realistic.”
Owens, though, said he was worried about space heaters being used with the buildings' older electrical wiring systems.
“The electrical inspector felt it was unsafe,” Owens said. “The mayor and I felt it was in everyone's best interest to evacuate. I couldn't live with the chance that anyone here would be hurt.”
Stanley said he has invested nearly $1 million in the complex since buying it three years ago.
“I want my tenants cared for, but moving them out of their homes for weeks isn't the right way to care for them,” he said.
Dave Jones, a 64-year-old tenant, said gas leaks should have been fixed immediately. But he also said he was angry that city officials forced the residents to leave without being able to retrieve any belongings.