WILMERDING (KDKA) — A legal fight is underway over whether a building in Wilmerding needs to be vacated for the safety of the people who live and work there.
The fire safety issues are so alarming the district attorney’s office is trying to intervene.
Officials told KDKA the Faller Building has 105 fire and building code violations. The building contains 28 apartments and three businesses, one of them is a paint shop.
Officials said if there were to be a fire, it could be catastrophic.
“There was a big hole in the line going to the oven. They almost blew me up,” said Vinceant Coury.
He has lived at 324 Commerce Street for six months and told KDKA he experienced a fire safety hazard almost immediately after moving in.
“They came in they kicked in the door and said we smell gas. Next thing I know I got three fireman carrying me. They carried me out the door and said you’ve got to get out of here now,” said Coury.
There is a gaping hole is above the sink in his bathroom.
“There’s roaches in there. We just discovered mice. Like it’s crazy in there,” said Bianca Hobson, who lives there too.
Hobson and Shequaila Griffin have had other problems.
“Whew a lot of problems. My windows, my refrigerator went bad. She won’t replace the refrigerator. She replaced my stove but I had to but a little refrigerator so I could have food for my kids,” said Hobson.
“Our gas being turned off when we don’t pay for and water issues and stuff like that,” said Shequaila Griffin.
The Wilmerding Borough inspector deemed it uninhabitable and gave the landlord, Sean Kerrigan, five days to have the building vacated.
Kerrigan’s attorney requested an emergency injunction, which was granted, to have a hearing to decide whether they should have more time to fix the problems.
In the meantime, District Attorney Stephen Zappala is considering possibly bringing criminal nuisance charges.
“What we’re concerned about is human life,” said Zappala.
Borough officials reached out to Zappala for help before what they call a “dangerous” situation becomes catastrophic.
“Combining commercial use with residential use, paints and stuff like that, combustible materials. That’s the recipe for something very bad to happen,” said Zappala.
Thursday, the DA’s office tried to have the case transferred to criminal division but the motion was denied.
“When you lease property you are entitled to safe and decent housing and that’s not what these people are being provided with,” said Zappala.
Even though the motion to transfer the case to criminal court was denied charges can still be brought. The DA’s office is still investigating and told KDKA they will be there Monday when the case is heard in civil division.