Residents displaced by fire at Littleton senior complex learn it will be months before apartments are again habitable

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Apartment residents who have been living in hotels, the homes of friends and family and other temporary shelter since a fatal fire more than a week ago learned Tuesday it could be months before their Littleton homes are again habitable.

Andy Boian, a spokesman for building owner Tebo-Orvis LLC, said that was the message he had to relay during a residents’ meeting that lasted several hours Tuesday afternoon. About 50 people were at the meeting,

“It’s basically going to be months before anybody gets back in. If they get back in,” he said.

Michael Mitchell, 70, died in the fire that broke out in one apartment early Nov. 17 at the five-story, 134-unit east tower of the Windermere senior complex. Thirteen other people were injured. The entire tower has been closed since. A fire two years ago in the complex’s other tower had caused a similar displacement.

Boian also said initial testing had shown no signs the fire caused an asbestos spill, but that state officials had ordered more tests.

“We are trying to expedite this,” he said, adding he hoped for results of the new testing in the next 48 hours. He said another meeting to update residents was scheduled Monday.

The residents also were told Tuesday that building staff would be able to enter the apartments and retrieve valuables and important documents. Residents were asked to fill out forms detailing what they would like brought to them from their homes, Boian said.

Smoke and other damage mean the entire building needs new carpeting, paint and other work. Boian also said the building, which had sprinklers only in the basement, would also now be outfitted with sprinklers throughout.

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