Salvaged clothes have been laundered several times since fire destroyed Ausra Dzidolikaite’s apartment.
But the smoky odor from the most recent Park Jefferson Apartments blaze won’t go away.
“The smell makes me dizzy,” Dzidolikaite says, “and I threw up a few times.”
Last week, Park Jefferson’s managers reacted to the Jan. 6 fire — the eighth major fire to hit the complex since 2003 and the third in the past 13 months — by sending a letter to residents outlining improvements management intends to make.
Maintaining that Park Jefferson is in compliance with all building codes and zoning ordinances, the managers contended they were going “beyond” those requirements by supplying each apartment with a fire extinguisher, installing smoke alarms and detectors, and beefing up existing firewalls in the attics of all buildings with caulking, fire tape, and fire-resistant paint.
The letter was issued one day after Park Jefferson managers met with city officials to mull over how future blazes can be prevented at the complex.
“The city wants the building to be safer, the owners want the building to be safer,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg told The Tribune. “We’ve just got to make sure they have all the advice they need to get it done.”
But while the city met with Park Jefferson’s management, several victims of the Jan. 6 fire met with an attorney to plan a class-action lawsuit.
“It’s been an informational meeting so far,” attorney Peter Agostino said. “The people who showed up shared issues, and we listened to their stories.”
So far, Agostino counts 19 Park Jefferson victims of the Jan. 6 fire who have signed up for the class-action suit.
Agostino says he was also contacted by one victim of a massive blaze that destroyed an entire building in the complex Oct. 28.
“It’s premature to say anything definitive,” Agostino says of damages the suit could be seeking.
“We’re trying to see what information we can get informally. We’re just in the process of preparing.”
Aaron Partridge “lost a lot of stuff” in the Jan. 6 fire.
But Partridge didn’t sign up for the class-action suit looking for a payday.
“It’s more to find out if (the cause of the fire) is legitimate,” Partridge says. “I’m not trying to get paid fat or nothing like that. Maybe right some things we lost — the bed, a vacuum cleaner — things we want to recover.”
Dzidolikaite wants three things.
“Money,” she says, “an apology, and improved living conditions for other people who are still living at the complex.”
Dzidolikaite admits that she and her boyfriend entertained thoughts of leaving Park Jefferson in the aftermath of the Oct. 28 fire.