Engineers, county inspectors look into collapsed Pasco County apartments

5:27 PM, Aug 21, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Engineers, county inspectors look into collapsed apartments

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Holiday, Florida -- Christopher Saccone says he got the shock of his life Tuesday night.

Firefighters knocked on his door yelling, "Get out! Get out!" 

Christopher lives at The Park at Barrington Place in Holiday. He says he pays nearly $700 a month to rent his one-bedroom off of US Highway 19.

Now, he's living across the street at the Marriott after chunks of the apartment complex came crumbling down in the middle of the night.

He described the evacuation as chaotic. 

"Shocking, surprised and scared," Christopher told 10 News. "They told us to get out, that the building was collapsing!"

Another resident, a mother-of-two, said, "I feel like it's unsafe."

One man told us, "I've been saying since I moved in that I need to move out."

Roughly 36 apartments were affected in the building collapse. Residents say they are fed up, frustrated and enough is enough. 

"I just fell asleep. The fire department was banging on our doors [saying] 'get out, get out, the building is coming down,' " said Christopher. 

Outside, you can see the balcony buckling so badly that it dips into a V-shape. Chunks of stucco came down in pieces. Equity Management, which owns the complex, claims that it's simply "water intrusion," not a structural issue.

We asked them point blank -- what happened? 

Ben Mallah, a regional manager with Equity Management, told 10 News, "Well, it's a 40-year-old building. The exterior stucco has had water penetration. We are having engineers look into what it is. No one is in danger, no one has been injured. We are fixing this. We are putting people up at a hotel and everyone will be taken care of."

But, that's not what a disaster recovery team told 10 News off-camera.

A well-known local company told us, "This building is in an imminent state of collapse and danger. It needs major work. It's like putting a band-aid on cancer."

Clean up crews were told to clear away any debris while engineers hired by the apartment complex must now decide if the building can be saved.

Engineers were on scene Wednesday afternoon meeting with Pasco County building inspectors. The building must be secured before any work can be completed.

Residents admit they feel like they're being lied to right now.

"It's all being kept secret," said Christopher.

When 10 News asked why he thinks it's being kept a "secret," Christopher answered, "Because they don't want people leaving. But let me tell you something, I think people will leave after this."

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