Residents say safety concerns continue after latest fire at troubled north side apartment complex

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INDIANAPOLIS — Since February, the Indianapolis Fire Department has responded to at least four fires at Lakeside Pointe at Nora apartments.

Crews were called to the apartments again Saturday morning for a fire that destroyed the complex’s main office building. This is the second time since March this specific building has been the site of a fire.

“The first time it was only half of it. Now today, the whole thing is gone,” said a resident, who asked FOX59 not to identify her, citing fear of retaliation. “It’s pretty bad that you can’t be honest and up front to let people know that you are scared of being at home.”

Prior to Saturday’s fire, there were three other fires at the apartments between mid-February and April. At least one of those displaced residents, and another damaged the now-destroyed main office building.

Those three fires were determined to be accidental, and not investigated as arson. The cause of Saturday’s fire remains under investigation.

A letter sent to residents by management last September said, three fires around that time were believed to be intentionally set inside vacant units.

The complex has been the site of scrutiny by local health officials and neighborhood advocates for some time over health violations and major problems that management was slow to fix.

As FOX59 previously reported, Marion County Health Officials have issued thousands of dollars in fines for failure to repair issues. Members of a county tax board also revoked the complex owner’s charitable tax exemption again in February, citing deplorable conditions that hadn’t been fixed.

The owners of the complex were sent a tax bill totaling more than $400,000.

Residents who spoke with FOX59 on Saturday said they fear for their well-being and that concerns to the complex’s management continue falling on deaf ears.

Many residents did not want to do an interview, citing fears over retaliation. Resident Lora Driscoll said she wants to be a voice for those who are too nervous.

“I have a voice. I can scream and yell and complain but they can’t and I feel like maybe I have to be the voice,” she said.

“Hopefully somebody can see this and really help,” said Driscoll. “For real, help because we really need it.”

Driscoll said fires happening at the complex are not something new.

“The fires here are pretty common. The first time that I moved in here was July,” she said. “I was here maybe two weeks, there was a fire across the street from me.”

The resident who did not want to be identified but agreed to interview said Saturday’s fire was the third fire one that has happened since she moved in. She said with each one, her safety concerns are only getting worse.

“It scares me because my back door don’t open. I can’t get my windows open, so if I catch on fire, I’m pretty much dead,” she said. “After you see apartment after apartment burn up, you never know. When is it my turn? Who’s gonna be next?”

Driscoll said she shares the same concerns for own well-being and her neighbors.

“I truly am afraid to sleep at night. I wake up every day checking all of my electrical wires and my plugs to make sure that everything’s okay,” she said. “There’s families that live here — kids. My biggest fear is for them.”

The other resident said, “Look at all the lives that are out here in danger.”

Both women expressed they don’t believe any change will happen unless a situation takes a turn for the worst.

“The apartments need to do something. People are gonna die if they don’t and that’s not a lie,” said Driscoll. “Maybe if more people did complain, something would change. I’m hoping that it doesn’t take a child dying in a fire to make a change.”

The other resident said, “We have babies in my apartment — in my building. Do I have to worry? I’m handicapped. Do I have to worry about the baby upstairs getting out of their apartment?”

They said their concerns stretch far beyond safety. They also worry for their health, citing deplorable conditions in their units and buildings and say management won’t help fix them.

“They’ve not come to do any repairs. I have no heat or air in my house,” said the resident, who said she also has mold in her unit. “I have water constantly dripping from my kitchen counters, from the kitchen cabinets. My bathroom ceiling is about to fall in.”

Driscoll said the conditions in her building are unfit for living. “We live in horrid conditions… roaches galore, mice.”

She also shared that she has had to take fixing issues into her own hands, calling an outside company to help repair issues her apartment has had.

“Maintenance won’t do nothing. The office won’t do nothing. You complain – don’t know who to reach out to,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll said she plans to leave the moment she can but knows not everyone has that ability. For that reason, she hopes the right person will hear their pleas and step in to help.

“It’s just not fair that landlords, owners are allowed to get away with things like that, but yet people like me have to pay our rent or we’re put in the streets,” said the resident who spoke under the condition of anonymity. “They go home every night so they don’t care. But we have to live here. We have to deal with this.”

FOX59 tried to reach out to management for the complex Saturday, but phone calls would not go through.

No injuries were reported in Saturday’s fire.

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