Fire-Plagued Apartments Test New Safeguard

After the first two fires at the Hillsborough Pointe apartment complex, managers thought adding sprinklers and talking with the tenants would solve the problem. That didn’t work.

Now a smoking ban has been added to the prevention plan and Hillsborough’s managers aren’t alone.

After three fires in 13-months at the Hillsborough Pointe complex, management took aim at what's been a public relations nightmare. Many tenants have vowed to leave because of safety concerns.

Pat Nitsch of Omaha said, "The first fire I was in, I lost everything."

Three individuals joined together today in support of the new actions taken by management to make the apartment complex smoke-free. All three fires have been caused by poorly discarded cigarettes.

Anchalee Willms has been caught-up in two of three fires and said, “I was considering leaving the property when the lease ends but then I heard the complex was going smoke-free. Made it easier for me to stay."

The complex joins a list of 80 others in the metro that have gone smoke-free. The biggest roadblock to change is the landlords fearing their tenants will leave.

Aja Anderson, with the Douglas County Health Department said, “We've seen that normally doesn't happen. And if it does, it's one or two tenants and you get that back in a few months."

Managers still aren't sure about how to enforce the ban but they say if there are consistent violators, they'll be asked to move.

The complex managers believe they’re on solid legal ground.

As we told you on Tuesday, some tenants believe the move to go smoke-free is just cause to break a lease.

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