OXFORD — Seven months after fire erupted in the senior housing complex killing one resident and critically injuring another, dozens of residents are expected to return home to the Oxford Meadows Apartments in the next few weeks.
Christmas wreaths were hung on the front door of the Oxford Meadows last week in anticipation of the homecoming.
“We’re very close to moving back ,” said Nancy Cushman of Speedway Inc. who manages the property. While the number of residents who will return to their apartments was unclear Tuesday, Dec. 6, Cushman did say several tenants have since relocated to other places to live.
Cushman said the reopening was delayed in part because of a boiler problem. A new boiler was installed last week. New ceilings and appliances were also being installed last week and the fire system needed a final check by the fire chief, she said.
The work to bring the tenants home has been a lengthy process. The building was damaged when sparks from an electrical connection to a wall plug ignited a nearby trash can in the 39-unit senior housing complex early in the morning of Saturday, May 21, displacing more than 40 residents.
By the end of the first week following the fire, all but six of the displaced residents were in temporary housing. The owners worked with Rural Development to find short-term apartments. Several of Speedway Inc.’s other vacant units were used to house fire victims. Additionally Speedway Inc. reached out to owners of other apartment buildings to find vacancies for short-term rentals, Cushman said.
Red Cross spokesman Justin Burkhardt told the Advertiser Democrat that typically the organization works with displayed residents for a week or two to find them an initial, safe place to stay and develop recovery plans with other agencies.
But in the case of the Oxford Meadows fire, it took a month or two to complete its work with providing immediate disaster response and connecting them with other programs and agencies.
“It varies from case to case,” he said last week.
By the first of June most of the residents were allowed to go back into the apartment complex to retrieve items.
The residents were able to leave items they did not need in their apartments while they are living elsewhere.