Larson Commons residents continue to live with fear following July fire
For over a month, residents of Larson Commons in Cloquet have been living in a constant panic.
"I'm living with the stress," Carolyn Watson said. "The uncertainty and the fear."
On July 6th, there was a fire on the fifth floor.
"I opened my door and it was so black with smoke," Kris Schwartz said. "We could not see."
Flames were everywhere.
"The flames were shooting up to the ceiling," Schwartz said.
Today, those flames are out, yet people are still afraid.
"On July 6th, there was a small fire in this building on the fifth floor and the sprinkler malfunctioned over the fire area and nobody knew how to shut the sprinkler off, so it pumped 30 gallons of water a minute for over an hour into our building," Watson said.
The fire damage was minimal, but the water damage was huge and has caused the elevator to break down on multiple occasions since.
"We live on the fifth floor with three other women that have walkers," Watson said. "When the elevator goes out, they can't do the stairwells."
"If I get in the elevator, am I going to make it home?" Watson said. "Am I going to make it downstairs to get my mail? Is the elevator going to stop and die on me? Am I going to get trapped in the elevator and they're going to have to call the fire department to get me out?"
For Betty LaFond, this was reality. She got stuck in the broken-down elevator for a half an hour.
"I just hope they fix it good because this is a very good place to be," LaFond said.
Yet according to the residents nothing was being fixed.
"I have bad hips, I have bad knees and I have a bad back, and I get really crabby when I have a back ache. And I'm really crabby now," Watson said.
So Carolyn Watson and Susan Bonneville wrote a letter to Dominium Property Management and got 58 signatures to back them up.
"Some people were afraid to step up," Watson said. "Some people were afraid to sign the letter. You shouldn't have to live in fear."
Going forward, residents hope to be heard.
"It doesn't feel home-y. It doesn't feel safe. It doesn't feel secure and it doesn't feel like anyone is hearing us," Watson said.
And have a place that feels like home.
"It would be nice just to see things get fixed so it looks nice in here again," Bonneville said.
Watson and Bonneville sent the letter out on August 7th, and have yet to hear back from Dominium.