Truckee explosion: Judge denies request for more cash for tenants
TRUCKEE — A judge this week denied a motion to compensate the handful of residents displaced by the unexplained explosion that killed a woman and seriously injured a 30-year-old man Aug. 18 at Henness Flats Apartments.
Local attorney Mary Marsh Linde represented tenants at Monday’s hearing at Nevada County Superior Court in Truckee. She argued that health safety code in California entitles tenants displaced for more than 24 hours to two months rent, utility bills and their deposit.
Nine households have been displaced by the explosion.
Judge C. Anders Holmer said the health safety code requires written evacuation notice from an enforcement agency, in this case the Town of Truckee’s building department. Since none was filed, Holmer denied Marsh Linde’s motion.
“Logic and law often is a bad partnership. I don’t argue that some tenants weren’t forced to leave, but remember, this is a creature of statute,” Holmer said.
The Truckee Fire Protection District provided a letter Monday before the hearing saying tenants of the building were evacuated.
“They have been out of their apartments now for 13 days,” Marsh Linde said. “The fact is nobody has figured out what caused the explosion.”
Brent Collinson, attorney for Cambridge Realty, which manages Henness Flats, said the town’s building department would have to find a violation of building code for this kind of compensation to be issued, and they haven’t, and have certified the building for reoccupancy as of Thursday, Aug. 27.
Alicia Lampkin, whose apartment is next door to the one that exploded, said she isn’t satisfied with Monday’s ruling.
“I have post traumatic stress syndrome because of this … I’m going to file a personal injury lawsuit,” Lampkin said. “There is no way I can leave my three girls there while at work and know that they are going to be OK.”
The Aug. 18 blast killed a 27-year-old woman and sent a 30-year-old man with serious injuries to the burn unit at the UC Davis Medical Center.
Three children, ages 12, 7, and 10 days old at the time, also were injured.
As of Monday, the cause of the explosion remains unknown, said Truckee Fire Protection District Public Information and Safety Officer Gene Welch.
“Because we don’t have any indication, like ‘here’s a broken gas line,’ we have to look at all the possible sources,” Welch said. “We wouldn’t allow people back in if we thought it (an explosion) could happen again. We’ve put a closer eye to the building than when it was newly constructed. Some tests were run multiple times with multiple pieces of equipment.”
The town’s building department certified the building for occupancy Aug. 27.
Cambridge has housed displaced residents in a hotel, provided vouchers for dinners in area restaurants, and hosted update meetings.
According to a letter sent to the displaced residents on Tuesday from Cambridge, effective Wednesday, Sept. 2, the management company will stop paying for the hotel where they have resided.
“Our intention in extending these arrangements beyond August 27th was to provide you with ample additional time to make reasonable decisions regarding your future housing,” the letter reads.
In a Monday e-mail interview, Jeffrey Passadore, president of Cambridge, said the company made no demands on residents moving back into the building. He said tenants have been given the option to move permanently to another apartment in Henness Flats.
“We are reasonable and compassionate people. Our residents have been through a difficult time and we are entirely committed to remaining supportive in every way possible,” Passadore said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
El Dorado County deputies arrested two people on suspicion of grand theft and possession of burglary tools after reportedly finding items linked to catalytic converter thefts in a vehicle during a traffic stop Jan. 13.