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Utah residents speak out after being ordered to evacuate following ‘Red Tag’ order for apartment complex

Posted at 5:57 PM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-11 21:56:42-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Robert Gardner got a wake-up call from the fire marshall Monday morning at his apartment in Salt Lake City.

"We have 72 hours to move out," said Gardner.

Just 72 hours to pack everything up.

"72 hours. I mean I got to come up with first, last month’s rent. I got to rent a u-haul. Get a storage unit," said Gardner. "What am I going to do? What am I going to do? I have three little girls."

The Salt Lake City Fire Marshall, Paul Paulsen, issued a red flag order at the Georgia apartments near 2100 S. and 200 E., which essentially means it's too dangerous to live there right now.

"It's very unsafe for them to reside in a building that the smoke detectors have all been taken and thrown away. There’s no extinguishers and the sprinkler system does not work," said Paulsen.

The fire department first became aware of the violations in September of 2017, and an inspector has been in contact with the owner every month since, trying to get her to do the work to make the apartments livable.

Tony Milner, who works with Salt Lake City Housing and Neighborhood Development says the city is stepping in to help the tenants find new places to live.

"This is something not of their doing, but it is due to the landlord. That’s why we’re here to help them to try and navigate all their different options. We’re going through a range of services which include tenant-landlord mediation to try and get their rent and deposit back, let them know about their rights. We’re also trying to do rent and deposit assistance, housing locator," said Milner.

However, finding affordable housing in Salt Lake City, in just 24 hours, is easier said than done.

"Housing made me move here. I can’t afford nothing else. Family of five. I make about $33,000 a year. There ain't no housing for me," said Gardner.