PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A judge has denied the request of a Pitcairn building owner that would allow tenants back into their apartments after they were ordered out over safety concerns.

The emergency hearing was held this morning on the status of that building. During that hearing the judge called the conditions inside life-threatening.

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About 40 tenants found themselves in an unforeseen hardship Thursday after they were ordered to evacuate the Young Hotel in Pitcairn.

The borough solicitor says the owner, Don Young, had refused to comply with serious code violations since May that put the tenants’ lives in danger. The tenants were given less than an hour to vacate.

“What’s more important? Is it more important that they live or die?” said Bruce Dice, Pitcairn’s solicitor.

Judge Joseph James refused a motion to let the tenants move back in, saying it could have tragic consequences. The biggest issues are related to fire safety, including a faulty smoke alarm system and a fire escape that not only is feet away from a power line but also doesn’t fully reach the ground.

“You’ve got three floors. You’ve got older senior citizens in this facility that if something happened… there’s been admissions that there’s smoking in the rooms, said Dice. “Something happens and that place catches fire, they’re not getting out.”

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While the owner of the Young Hotel was not at the motion hearing, his attorney Chris Mitchell, says his client wants to comply with the court’s orders.

KDKA’s Heather Abraham reports that all but five of the tenants had found a place to stay with family or friends for the time being. The others were being assisted by the Red Cross temporarily.

KDKA’s Paul Martino reports:

“I’m sure that would be a substantial hardship for them,” said Mitchell. “Like I said in the beginning, Mr. Young has nothing but the best intentions and he wants to get his tenants back into a safe building.”

A building inspection is scheduled for Monday, and the solicitor for the Borough of Pitcairn says more violations could follow.

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Heather Abraham