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Duluth building had several code violations before Friday fire

The building was being sold to be rehabilitated.

The East Hillside apartment building that burned Friday sits empty Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. In August inspectors found 55 violations. Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

A life safety inspection was scheduled for Monday for an apartment building that caught on fire Friday evening in Duluth's East Hillside neighborhood. The fire displaced six adults, four children and a dog.

The building, owned by One Roof Community Housing, on the 600 block of East Fourth Street was going through the relicensure process as the original license expired during the eviction moratorium, according to Jonathan Otis, deputy chief of the Duluth Fire Department.

"We were told by One Roof that the building was being sold to be rehabbed. The tenants told us they were scheduled to be out of the building by November 30," Otis said.

After an Aug. 6 inspection, inspectors ordered corrections on 55 violations and several of the units had been condemned for habitation. The building was set to be reexamined Monday.

"Life safety had been trying to contact the manager of the building for an update on the status of the ordered corrections as recent as last week but had not heard back," Otis said in an email to the News Tribune. "With no response or corrections we likely would have begun the citation process."


Otis said the building was historically subject to numerous code violations and tenant complaints that were followed up on and corrected by the owners. Many of the units had been condemned and boarded up while others had been vacated and boarded up.

"There is evidence that several of the condemned units had been broken into and people had been sheltering there," Otis said. "These would have likely been discovered during the reinspection on the 22nd."

Despite the condemned units, Otis said the building is believed to be "solid and in generally good condition, despite the exterior appearance."

"The condemned units do not affect the safety of the building, only the safety and habitability of those particular units," Otis said.

However, due to the fire, the entire building is now condemned due to lack of utilities.

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