MANCHESTER, NH (CBS) – Dan Dion says turning on the TV and seeing one of his buildings up in flames has always been one of his biggest fears. Monday morning, it was a building he had just sold on TV engulfed in fire. Longtime tenants, a family of four, victims of the tragedy.
“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe I saw that building up in flames. It was sad for the family that lost their lives,” he told WBZ.
Dion says the family had lived in the building for four years. The little boys who were killed would help him pick up garbage and work around the property.
“They were good people,” he said.
Dion sold the seven unit apartment building with first floor retail in April after owning it for nearly 20 years.
The I-Team checked the building’s inspection history. Just this winter it passed inspection earning a certificate of compliance.
In April, a letter from the building inspector’s office gave it an all clear for sale.
But it had not been without issues. Manchester does inspections every three years. Each time there were issues that had to be fixed before a certificate of compliance could be issued. Some of the inspections point out problems with electrical outlets, cockroaches and perhaps most tellingly debris in the hallways and blocking exits.
In each case, Dion fixed the problems right away and was awarded a certificate of compliance.
Still, he says, the debris and garbage was a constant worry for him and for fire officials. He suspects it may have contributed to this morning’s tragedy.
“I think it was debris on the porches. I used to tell the tenants every time I went there to pick up the garbage along the building. Especially on the back porches everyone just stored stuff on the porches,” he told the I-Team. “It’s a fire hazard number one and anyone could walk by with a cigarette thrown on the porch.”
The smoke detectors in the Wilson Street building were working. Dion says he replaced them all in January. It was a relief to him to know working smoke detectors may have helped others escape.