Manager received 'minor' complaints about residents - KCTV5

Property manager received 'minor' complaints about residents before meth fire

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Managers spent Monday surveying the damage at the Alta Loma apartments in Madison after a meth fire destroyed several units.

S&S Property Management runs the complex, and took control of the apartments just two months before the fire. The landlords, accompanied by insurance adjusters, walked through the rubble to assess cleanup costs. It's unclear how much the meth cleanup will cost.

Metro police said the fire started when a meth lab exploded inside the building Saturday afternoon, displacing nearly 75 people. The flames destroyed eight apartments before Nashville firefighters extinguished the blaze.

Police arrested Kelly Wakefield, 27, and Michael Drury, 22. Both are charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and aggravated arson.

"When people do these things inside their homes, there's not much we can do," said Tabitha Allbert, of S&S Property Management. "We're doing whatever we can to make it right."

Allbert said she's refunded rent and deposit costs for at least five residents. Tenants who wish to stay at Alta Loma can request a vacant apartment. Allbert said there are enough units at Alta Loma to accommodate the people left homeless by the explosion. She puts that estimate at between 35 and 45 residents.

Managers said they hope the residents can move into the apartments by Wednesday, but the time frame remains unclear.

Allbert said the company plans to develop tenant profiles to learn more about its renters.

A simple background check could have revealed Drury is a convicted felon with a history of robbery and burglary. But Allbert said Wakefield never listed Drury, her boyfriend, on the lease.

"With our current policies in place this would not have been an issue," Allbert said.

Despite what neighbors say, managers claim they've never received drug complaints about residents in the building. Allbert did admit receiving several other "minor" complaints, but could not elaborate.

"The complaints that we did receive, we were taking all action allowed by Tennessee Law and there was a plan in place for this unit," Allbert said.

"And what was that plan?" asked reporter Alanna Autler.

"I can't discuss the plans, unfortunately," Allbert said.

The information comes too little, too late for Maurice Key, who escaped the flames with his 1-year-old daughter.

"I just want a roof for today," Key said. "That's my goal, where we going stay for the night?"

Key and his pregnant girlfriend, Breane Hodge, spent Monday searching for help. They tried visiting the American Red Cross shelter at a nearby church, only to learn it had closed Sunday.

"We're basically just stranded out here," said Key, who works two jobs to support his family. The flames incinerated the uniforms he needs to wear for work. Key and Hodge have stayed with relatives since Saturday.

"Our small child, everything she had, her bed, her clothes, her toys, everything is gone," Hodge said.

An ongoing drug investigation led police to arrest two men at a nearby building earlier this summer, according to Don Aaron, a spokesperson for the Metro Nashville Police Department.

Aaron said that investigation appears unrelated to Wakefield and Drury.

Representatives with the American Red Cross said victims can still reach out to their Nashville office for food, clothing and other assistance. Call 615-405-2433 for more information.

Managers with the Parkwood Villa Apartments in Nashville also want to help these victims. The company will waive move-in fees for residents displaced by the fire. As of Monday afternoon, six units remained open. 

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