TARGET 8: Fire investigation raises concerns over previous violations

4 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago Wednesday, September 27 2017 Sep 27, 2017 Wednesday, September 27, 2017 10:30:00 PM CDT September 27, 2017 in Target 8
By: Kevin Ko, KOMU 8 Reporter
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OSAGE BEACH - A fire at 962 Chateau Lane destroyed a lakeside condominium, leaving tenants homeless and causing officials to label it as uninhabitable. But about a week before the tragedy, a city inspector already deemed the building too dangerous to live in and was ready to post "no occupancy" just days after the flames erupted.

"I lost everything."

Rachel Marie Tapp is one of the residents in a condo building that was scorched in a fire last Wednesday. She says the flames destroyed all of the personal items that meant the most to her.

"I lost my great-great grandparents dresser that has been handed down to me," Tapp said. "I lost a box with every photo that my mother ever took of us growing up and my dad, who passed away, all my pictures of him. My mothers day cards my kids made me, all my furniture, all my clothes, all my kid's belongings - it's all gone. Everything."

But while the building was condemned after the fire, Tapp said the property was already on the verge of being shut down after an Osage Beach official inspected her home on Sept. 12.

"She (city inspector) couldn't tell me officially, but she said the building is not livable," Tapp said.

While the inspector's words weren't "official" on Sept. 12, they were after she issued a notice to the property owner's the following day, stating, "This property will be posted no occupancy as of Sept. 25, 2017."

Five days before the city planned to shut it down, the condominium burned down.

"The entire property is dangerous and unsafe..."

Read the full reports from the Osage Beach building inspector below, which includes the "Notice of Violation" (Sept. 12) and "Supplemental Inspection Report" (Sept. 13).

The inspection uncovered more than one problem - it found fifteen violations, including "unsafe structures" and "structure unfit for human occupancy."

Tapp said beyond the structural dangers, she realized how severe her home's health hazards were during the inspection.

"I peeled up the wallpaper in my laundry room the day I called the inspector so she could see, and the entire wall was completely black," Tapp said. "She told me that if I had a place to go right then, I needed to go right away because of how bad the black mold was."

The same day she says the city inspector looked through her home (Sept. 12), the city of Osage Beach ordered the property owner to correct the violations. If nobody responded within ten days, the city would "file suit against you in the Municipal Court of the City of Osage Beach asking the court to order you to correct these violations and also asking the Court to assess a fine against you for violation of the Code."

An anonymous city official from Osage Beach confirmed there was never any contact made from the property's owner within the ten-day deadline.

"It's a police investigation now."

The case was handed to the state fire marshal's office last Thursday, according to Eddie Nicholson, the Osage Beach Division Chief of Fire Prevention Bureau.

He said officials already were able to piece together a general narrative, but other complications related to the investigation caused statewide agencies to get involved.

"The landlord was repairing a water line, and the fire started in the unit he was working in," Nicholson said last Thursday.

"We know what happened, there's just some questions on the storyline," he said. "We did call in the state fire marshal's office to help with that, so they are now leading the investigation. They have more policing powers than we have to subpoena records and ask for different documents that we can't do because we're not police officers."

"Everyone that lives here has needed repairs done and he avoids coming here because he's not willing to do the repairs," Tapp said.

"My entire bathroom floor, there was two holes about this big that had caved in and were continuously dripping water."

The fire is still under investigation.

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