#Roommates, please send your thoughts and prayers to the families of two men who passed away after a gas leak was discovered at a housing complex in #Columbia, South Carolina.
Hundreds of others who live in the #AllenBenedictCourt public housing units have been ordered to evacuate following the deadly gas leak, #TheState reports. Though the #RichlandCounty coroner’s office said a cause of death had not been officially determined, Columbia Mayor #SteveBenjamin said during a news conference that officials believe the gas leak is to blame. The two men have been identified as 61-year-old #CalvinWitherspoonJr and 30-year-old #DerrickCaldwellRoper.
Now authorities have found numerous gas leaks across the entire complex while investigating the deaths, according to Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins, displacing more than 400 residents. “As we went through building after building … we discovered that multiple units have gas leaks,” Jenkins said. “ … We view this as an immediate danger to life.” The housing authority is working with the city to find motels for the displaced residents.
What makes things worse is the projects are across the street from the housing authority and residents claim that they have received reports of gas leaks for months. Columbia fire officials responded to the complex seven times last year after residents said they smelled gas, Jenkins said, adding that the odors came from leaking stoves or water heaters.
Jenkins said an inspection showed that 63 units had heightened levels of hazardous gases, forcing 411 residents of the 26 buildings to leave.
Authorities handed out fliers explaining the evacuation to residents and posted signs on the housing units that said the buildings were no longer habitable. At least three safety workers wore hazmat suits as they checked inside of the units.
Others living in the public housing community also said they’ve experienced issues with odors, the smell becoming so severe for one man that he became dizzy and had to go to the hospital.
“I had to get up out of there,” Rodricus Walker said. Walker said he keeps his windows open to help with the nauseating smell.
Gilbert Walker, the executive director of the Columbia Housing Authority, said his agency has addressed issues of gas smells over the months and that the housing authority is required to take care of problems within 24 hours.
“We try to take care of problems as quick as we can,” Walker said.
Jenkins said the units are not equipped with carbon monoxide monitors, which are not required but now the fire department is recommending the monitors be installed in every unit.
The Columbia Housing Authority has reserved 40 hotel rooms for residents and will be providing people with meals and transportation, Walker said. Anyone needing housing will receive it, Benjamin added.
It’s not immediately clear how long the residents will be without a home.
We’ll keep you updated on this story, #Roommates.
TSR STAFF: Christina C! @cdelafresh