Police re-evacuate historic hotel

FAYETTEVILLE Officials were at the hotel two days after they told tenants to leave for safety reasons, because the building's fire alarms did not work.

Some of the hotel's residents had re-occupied the building since Tuesday's evacuation without authorization. Authorities say the second evacuation was made with the safety of the tenants in mind.

Owner John Chen was notified that tenants were not to occupy rooms until the problems had been corrected and the fire department authorized re-entry.

The fire department had previously given Chen 30 days to correct 18 fire code violations on an Oct. 29 inspection.

On Dec. 3, a notice of hazard was issued to Chen, providing him 10 more days to address the violations without incurring any fines or further penalties.

One resident living in the hotel said last month fire inspectors found the smoke detector and the fire sprinkler in her room didn't work.

"In my room the ceiling is falling down, and I remember hearing the fire marshal telling him he would have to fix it," evacuated resident Tia McNeill said.

While several violations were corrected, the majority of the violations were not. The remaining violations created a fire hazard for the residents, prompting the evacuation.

"It's extremely dangerous, potential loss of life when you don't have adequate notification to get everybody out," Fayetteville Fire Department Battalion Commander Ron Lewis said Tuesday.

The fire department said between 50 and 75 people were staying at the hotel prior to the evacuation. They said many of them were staying in rooms that were converted to small apartments.

The Regency Inn has offered to provide temporary housing for residents at a discounted rate.

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