Bridgeport, Conn. (WTNH) - Bridgeport's mayor implores landlords to allow fire inspectorsinto their rental properties to help prevent another tragic fatalfire.
Mayor Bill Finch admitted to News 8's Ted Koppy he simply has noway of knowing how many apartments without permits there are in thePark City.
News 8 also spoke to several neighbors on Elmwood Avenue. Theysay there is definitely an issue in Bridgeport with landlordsadding apartments to buildings without permits, all in the name ofmaking a few extra dollars.
Crews with the State Fire Marshall were at the burned out houseat 41 Elmwood Avenue Wednesday talking to one of the residentsforced out of that home.
Still under investigation is whether the third floor apartment– where Engine 7- Ladder 11’s Lt. Steven Velazquez andFF Michel Baik lost their lives -- was added illegally.
In this neighborhood and you see homes with more mailboxes thanaddresses.And it's not just a neighborhood problem. A number ofresidents tell us it is citywide.
"I've seen some stuff where people really shouldn't be livingthere,” said Diana. “But because the rent is cheapenough, they're there and the landlords are making out. I've seenit many, many times, many places."
Mayor Finch admits that illegal apartments are an issue, but sois enforcement.
"The real problem here is that the lawyers get involved and theyprotect peoples' private property rights and their right toprivacy,” Bridgeport’s mayor said.
Most property owners don't exactly roll out the red carpet forinspectors.
Mayor Finch continued, "I implore landlords to open up the doorto our Fire Department. They routinely inspect apartmentsthroughout the city.
“When there are no fires, they're out getting people toput smoke detectors in. They're out asking to inspectapartments.
“Let us inspect. We're not the heavy hand of the law,we're life savers."
Mayor Finch says, of course, it costs some money up front tosubmit to inspections and get permits. But as the Elmwood housefire case shoes; it can save a lot in the long run.
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