Questions arise about building in fatal apartment fire - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Questions arise about building in fatal apartment fire

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A fire at a West Washington St. apartment killed a seven-year-old boy. A fire at a West Washington St. apartment killed a seven-year-old boy.
INDIANAPOLIS -

The recent owner of an Indianapolis apartment building where a weekend fire killed a small boy insists the apartments had smoke detectors and if investigators didn't find any, it's because tenants took them out.

Eyewitness News also spoke with a young woman whose family is homeless and is hoping someone will help.

Devina Proffit, her boyfriend and their three-year-old are a day away from being homeless.

"We need shelter. We need everything." she said.

What little the family had was destroyed when their apartment building went up in flames Saturday morning. They had just paid the rent. Their emergency stay in a hotel is ending. Devina, a waitress, says she doesn't even have clothes to wear to work.

"We have no where to go after tomorrow night. No clothes, no shoes, we have nothing. We have what we had when they got out of the house," she explained.

The fire raced through the small apartment building on West Washington Street, killing a seven-year-old boy. Investigators, still looking for the cause of the fire, say contrary to the requirements of state law, there were no smoke detectors.

City records say a California man bought the property four weeks ago. The previous owner, Sohel Anwar, had the building for six years. Eyewitness News went to his Carmel home, but he wasn't there, but he did take a phone call.

Asked why there weren't any smoke detectors, Anwar replied, "No, there was, there was."

Then why do fire investigators say they didn't find any?

"Well, I mean, I don't know. They are battery-operated smoke detectors. And you know the tenants, most of them, take it off or deactivate them," Anwar said.

There are also questions about the building's construction.

Firemen figure this was originally built as a two-family house. Then, at some time, someone divided it into five separate apartments. The city has no record of anyone filing for building permits or building plans.

Anwar insists he didn't change anything and that it was an apartment building when he bought it.

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