SOUTH BEND - Counting what he’d lost Friday night in a fire at Park Jefferson Apartments, Michael Andrzejewski thought of a whole bunch of tools.
“Chain saw, router ... I’m a handyman. You name it.”
They are the tools he uses to install windows or tiles or do any number of house jobs for people he knows. It may take longer than a pro.
“That’s how he relaxes,” said Daveda Grow, a fellow Park Jefferson resident who works with Andrzejewski at a tool-and-die shop - his real job - in Elkhart.
Asked what he charges for handyman work, he said, “Make me a meatloaf and mashed potatoes.”
The tools were part of all his possessions lost - a house full of stuff that he “stuffed” into a two-bedroom apartment two years ago after his divorce.
The fire broke out just before 9 p.m. and gutted eight units at the eastern end of an apartment building on Rue Bossuet. Only five of those units were occupied, and so far all of those tenants are opting to move into other units at Park Jefferson, business manager Katherine Watson said Saturday.
As for the rest of the building, the staff said only two units suffered water damage and one had a hole poked into the ceiling.
Park Jefferson immediately put displaced tenants in furnished units there and at its sister property, Castle Point Apartments. One tenant went straight to a hotel Friday, not realizing that the American Red Cross and the complex were offering alternatives, said Gena Robinson, the Red Cross director of emergency services.
The Red Cross also helped residents replace medications and offered money for food and clothing, she said.
Fire investigator Rudy Jimenez said the fire’s cause hasn’t been determined yet. The blaze apparently injured no one.
In an unrelated case, lightning struck a TV antenna tower at the complex about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, causing an unused shed to smoke. Firefighters responded, but it wasn’t bad enough to need dousing.
The apartments have had a series of fires in recent years. Other than the electrical fire that destroyed the clubhouse in 2009, they’ve all been caused by lightning or residents, Watson said.
Andrzejewski said he didn’t have renter’s insurance to cover his losses, including a handmade hutch he’d bought 30 years ago.
“It was gorgeous,” Grow said.
“I’m still alive; that’s the most important thing,” Andrzejewski said. “You can go out and buy more stuff.”
Park Jefferson is such a good location for him that he plans to move into another unit there.
Resident Tressa Bailey just signed on for a third year at the complex.
“I’ve got a lot of common sense,” she said. “I know that each of these buildings is equal to two or three city blocks. I don’t think we have any more fires than any other place.”
Staff writer Joseph Dits: