ST. LOUIS – An apartment building burned one day after Mother’s Day, costing 24 families their homes. Boarded windows on the outside make it appear as if everyone left the building, but FOX 2 found people inside.
Where the fire broke out, on the second-floor hallway, the walls are black with soot and the light fixtures are melted from the heat. The smell of smoke is overwhelming, yet Aaron Walker told us, “At least five families are still in this building because we don’t have nowhere to go!”
Walker lives right across the hall from where the fire started. He added, “We shouldn’t even be here. I shouldn’t be doing this story with you.”
FOX 2 was also here when the fire broke out on May 9 at the apartments on Enright near Clara Avenue. Firefighters rescued several residents and police caught the suspected arsonist, who’s now locked up and facing a felony charge. More than a week later, Walker says he has not heard anything about where he can live.
Walker said, “People just started coming back because they don’t have nowhere to go. They didn’t place us [anywhere]. They didn’t put us in hotels. They threw us to the Red Cross. The Red Cross helped us, thank you Red Cross. We appreciate everything you all did, but what is $400-$500 going to do? And that was it!”
We talked to another woman who has a new baby and has an apartment upstairs. She told us property management did find her a new place to stay and she expected to move into it Wednesday.
Management then came to talk to Walker during our interview with him. They said they might have an option for him to live. We also asked management for a response, walking into their office across the street. A representative pointed out remediation began immediately. We saw the work today, with contractors wearing masks.
We reached out to a local doctor who told us short-term exposure to soot can damage your airways and long-term exposure can contribute to respiratory disease.
The management company added that they thought Walker was staying with family and that no one should be living in the burned-out building until remediation is complete. Management said they not only brought in the Red Cross but that it was also connecting residents with the nonprofit Operation Pathways.
They promised action for every resident impacted. Then Aaron Walker confirmed he’d heard promising news for the first time.