Ruston apartment complex damaged in fire shut down - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Ruston apartment complex damaged in fire shut down

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© KNOE 8 News © KNOE 8 News
Courtesy: Eric Brazzel, Ruston F.D. Courtesy: Eric Brazzel, Ruston F.D.

RUSTON, La. (KNOE 8 News) - KNOE 8 News has learned the apartment complex where several units were damaged by fire earlier this month is being shut down.

Sources close to the investigation tell KNOE, the entire Drew Apartment complex in Ruston is being closed immediately. The closure is leaving about 30 international students, other Louisiana Tech students and families without homes.

Our sources confirm, the complex has life-hazard deficiencies that were discovered after the fire investigation, during an inspection of the rest of the apartment units. Those include A/C and heating units, as well as water heaters that are not up to code.

Trinity Methodist Church in Ruston is setting up a shelter for those displaced. That shelter will open at 4:00 P.M. Thursday and be able to house 100 people. The church is located just north of Interstate 20, off of Highway 544.

Below is the news release from State Fire Marshal Butch Browning:

Fire Marshal orders evacuation of Drew Apartments

Ruston, LAJust after noon today the State Fire Marshal ordered that Drew Apartments on Henderson Street in Ruston be closed down. The order came on the heels of a January 9th fire that destroyed eight units within the apartment complex.

The order, signed by State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, states in part, "the apartments must be vacated and not occupied for any purpose until approved by the Office of State Fire Marshal." It goes on to say, "the order results from conditions found to exist that are especially liable to fire or dangerous to life."

Although the fire investigation is still active, investigators with the Office of State Fire Marshal have attributed the cause of the fire to a faulty furnace which was in use within one of the units destroyed by the January 9th fire. As part of their investigation, State Fire Marshal Officials found similar conditions present in other apartment units within the complex. Immediate measures were taken to ensure the safety of those still living within the complex.

Since January 9th, licensed contractors have been at the location working to remedy outstanding maintenance issues which pose risk to tenants of the complex. Additionally, a 24 hour a day "fire watch" has been in place since January 9th to ensure the safety of those living within the complex.

Today, those measures fell apart when contractors packed their equipment and left the scene. Those contractors, hired by Drew Apartments management, cited their reasons as not having been paid for their work on the complex. That action left the Office of State Fire Marshal with but one alternative and that was to close the facility.

"While it is not our intent to displace residents of the complex, we must do everything in our power to ensure that conditions are safe for those who call the complex home. We have worked with local groups in Ruston to ensure that everyone displaced by this event has a safe place to stay," said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning.

Officials estimate that approximately 100 tenants have been affected by this closure. A temporary shelter has been opened at Trinity United Methodist Church located at 1000 West Woodward Road in Ruston. All displaced tenants will be offered temporary shelter at that location. Officials will continue to assist those residents as they seek long-term housing.            

Previous Report:

UPDATE (1/10/2014 10pm):

RUSTON, La. (KNOE 8 News) - One day after a building in the Drew Apartment complex burnt down, many are looking for a place to live.

Nine of more than a dozen displaced residents are international students at Louisiana Tech coming from France, Bangladesh, India and China.

These students and others at the apartments are in need of assistance after they everything in the fire. Luckily, each of the international students managed to recover their passports from the flames.

The International Student Office at La Tech is asking for those that want to help to donate Walmart gift cards with small amounts on them. This allows for easy distribution, and is best for each of the students buying all new things.

For more, call (318) 257-4321 or email iso@latech.edu. Gift card donations can also be dropped of at Tolliver Hall Room #229.

Previous Story (1/9/2014 10pm):

RUSTON, La. (KNOE 8 News) - One building of the Drew Apartments in Ruston was destroyed by a fire Thursday.

Off Henderson, just south of California Avenue, a vacant apartment along with seven other occupied units around it, caught fire just after 1:00 p.m. The official cause of the fire has not been determined, but fire crews say it looks to have started in the apartments heating unit, then spread to the crawl spaces and attic of the building.

All eight units were destroyed, and the adjacent building had some smoke and water damage. This leaves more than a dozen people without a place to stay, including several international students for Louisiana Tech University.

A few things from some of the units were salvageable. Residence picked through baskets of clothes, and boxes of their belongings trying to find what they could still wear or use.

One La Tech student said he tried to save his friends computer from inside, but it had melted to the television.

Another student from Grambling say the roof of his first floor room caved in, he still has some hope that after the building is cleaned up, he may be able to recover some of his things.

State Fire investigators began their work to determine a cause Thursday night, and will continue Friday morning.

Meanwhile, dozens are searching for a place to stay, and the basics in clothing and food.

Previous Story: (1/9/2014 4pm)

RUSTON, La. (KNOE 8 News) - An apartment building is in flames in Ruston.  8 of the of 16 apartments in the Drew Apartment complex are a complete loss.  The complex is located on Henderson Street.

The complex is has two buildings and is connected by a breezeway.  The two buildings have four units on each floor.

Ruston Fire officials say that in order to prevent a total loss of both buildings, one building has been destroyed in order to save the other.

KNOE 8 News has a crew headed to scene and we'll have full coverage at 5, 6, and 10.

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