Local News


Owners react after vacant apartment fire

Posted at 6:54 AM, Dec 01, 2015
UPDATE: Action News tracked down the owners of an abandoned building complex after complaints from people in the community.  Residents said they fear squatters are taking over.  
"I've had death threats from the population here," said Pastor Dan Winkler, who runs a nearby church and resource center.
Tam Apartments were purchased three years ago, said co-owner Joseph Golshan.  
Twenty of eighty units have been renovated during that time.
"We've done a lot of work trying to kick out the homeless," said manager Danny Sanchez.  
The renovated apartments are safe and secure, said Sanchez. 
"This is a big gate that we put in, we also have cameras," he said. 
Action News was told the abandoned buildings are checked daily for squatters but the problem is hard to control.  
"It's been a constant challenge because they keep coming in and breaking up stuff," said Sanchez.  
Owners said their goal is to slowly renovate the remaining apartments. Right now, they're working through several legal and funding issues.
Meanwhile, Code Enforcement teams will be at the property this week, said city of Las Vegas spokesman Jace Radke.  This is customary after a fire.  
If investigators find a violations, the owners will be fined, said Radke. 
An abandoned valley apartment building goes up in flames twice in the last 24 hours and firefighters say squatters are to blame.  A friend of the squatter allegedly responsible is speaking out to Action News.
"His intention was to get it burning and keep it contained," said the man who did not give his name, "But he fell asleep."
It happened in the 2000 block of Tam Drive, near Sahara Avenue and Interstate 15, according to Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.
The first call came in at 9:10 p.m. Saturday and the second fire was reported at 10:40 a.m. Sunday.
Even though the apartment building was boarded up, fire investigators say it appears the building is being used by squatters.
"We gotta do what we gotta do to stay warm, and survive another day of this cold weather," said the man.
Both of the fires were relatively small and there were no reported injuries.
But Las Vegas Fire & Rescue's Timothy Szymanski says that's not always the case. 
"In some cases, these people don't get out alive," said Szymanski.  
Neighbors tell Action News they're worried that fires could potentially reach their property.  
"They ain't bothering me but that burning stuff have to stop," said a nearby resident.
Fires in homes occupied by squatters are especially dangerous for crews.  
"You're going into a pitch black building with no utilities in it," said Szymanski, "sometimes they have defense mechanisms or booby traps set up."