Fire displaces dozens of people at Plainfield apartment building with maintenance violations

An early morning fire in Plainfield displaced multiple families before the holidays. The building is in the same apartment complex where tenants were evicted just this summer due to multiple violations issued by the city.
Over 40 families were evacuated Monday morning as a fire burned on the third floor of 515 West Seventh Ave.
Residents say it started around 4 a.m. Pedro Gonzalez helped several of his neighbors to safety. He spoke with News 12 via a translator.
“We saw that a lot of families were missing, then we decided to get into the apartment to rescue them,” he said.
Families lined up their cars outside the building Monday evening to collect anything that wasn’t damaged. The complex is owned by Cyclone Investments and is no stranger to controversy.
The scene on Monday was much like the scene back in August when building 501, located just next door, was shut down and condemned. Tenants were given hours to collect their things, leaving many of them without a home. Building 515 was in danger of also being condemned, but a community activist told News 12 it was livable.
"There were some things to be done and the landlord right away, they hired people to come fix it. That’s how they kept open,” said activist Flor Gonzales.
The cause of Monday’s fire has yet to be determined. However, some say space heaters may have been the culprit because tenants recently complained about not having heat, Gonzalez.
"That’s one of the problems, that the people need heat. I guess they have a lot of electrical heaters around,” she said.
Another community activist says that some families may be moved to a nearby building on Kensington Avenue, which is also owned by Cyclone Investments. However, they say that the building is not in a condition for people to stay there.
"That building, it’s not in proper condition they don’t have heat on over there, that’s what a lot of residents are concerned about,” the activist said.
According to the American Red Cross, about seven or nine units were badly damaged and about 30 people were displaced.
News 12 has learned that 15 people were taken to the hospital. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known.