A central Fresno apartment complex where residents have gone without heat and hot water for nearly two weeks will need its entire natural gas piping replumbed in order to safely restore access to heating and cooking, a city official said Monday.
The cost could reach $300,000, and it’s not yet clear whether the owner of the Summerset Village Apartments in the 2100 block of North Angus Street has the means to pay for those repairs, said city spokesman Mark Standriff.
“One way or another we’re going to fix the problem,” he added.
Fresno city officials and utility workers Monday continued to assess problems at the 220-unit complex whose deficiencies with heating and cooking came to light last week.
Residents at the complex, where there are many Lao and Hmong refugees, have been assisted during the emergency by the American Red Cross, which has provided blankets and emergency shelter to those who need it. The city is bringing in portable showers and working with the Red Cross to ensure residents have hot meals, Standriff said.
Standriff said the city late Monday made contact with the owner, who lives in Santa Barbara, and the owner promised to visit the complex Tuesday to assess problems. He did not have the owner’s name, but said city officials believe Summerset Village may be the owner’s only property in Fresno.
City crews tested the natural gas piping to see if it could retain pressure and it quickly failed, he said. Replacing the entire system could take three weeks. But code enforcement officials uncovered other problems that will also need to be addressed, including a lack of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
“Once we go in there, it may go beyond just putting in a whole new gas pipe system,” he said.
Standriff said the city will check with other agencies, including the county’s Office of Emergency Services, about the best options to address the problems, including whether to seek a declaration of local state of emergency that could pave the way to additional assistance.
If the owner can’t afford to make repairs, Standriff said, the city could take over the property in receivership, or could look at whether other options are available to pay for repairs. He said city officials will be back at the property Tuesday to continue assessing problems and try to develop an action plan.
Meanwhile, the city is trying to make sure residents have heat as a winter storm approaches.
“Our goal is to make sure all of the residents have some kind of heating by the end of the day tomorrow,” Standriff said Monday night.