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Medina apartment tenants still await gas fixes

About 50 tenants at Medina Village Apartments were still without heat or hot water Thursday as crews from Columbia Gas Co. spent a second day inspecting gas lines.

Workers began going door to door Wednesday at the complex on Springbrook Drive after leaks were discovered. The inspections began one week after a Feb. 9 explosion and fire killed 18-year-old Jacob Drake, injured his parents, Sheila and Robert Drake, and displaced eight families.

The explosion occurred at the Drakes’ apartment at 451 Springbrook. Sheila and Robert Drake remained in critical condition Thursday at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

On Thursday, Medina Fire Chief Bob Painter said six families didn’t have heat overnight Wednesday and had to go elsewhere or obtain space heaters.

Crews conducted inspections until about 2 Thursday morning, officials said. The Medina Fire Department provided assistance until about 7:30 p.m., Painter said.

As of Thursday afternoon, Medina building official Dan Gladish said about 50 tenants remained affected by the gas inspections.

He said the city was not to blame for difficulties experienced by the residents.

“When you see unkempt manual gas valves, you have to walk away with a peace of mind,” he said, adding that the city’s role is to make sure every unit gets checked.

“Normally this (the inspection process) would take weeks,” Gladish said. “Once we saw a few leaks, there was no turning back.”

He said that for the well-being of the tenants, officials wanted to check all units.

“We’re trying to get as many repairs as possible,” he said. “It’s all about the health and safety of the tenants.”

Initially, Gladish said, a “handful of concerns” drew the attention of the maintenance department, the city and the gas company.

Painter said issues were found in some of the buildings.

“Columbia Gas followed us and tested the lines that had outside leaks,” he said, adding that repairs were made.

Columbia Gas spokesman Bill Loomer confirmed Thursday that service workers were on the property conducting inspections.

“We will do an initial inspection,” he said. “Plumbers come in and repair the lines. Once that’s done, we do a re-inspection.”

Gladish said in some cases, inside leaks that were found might have been created by the testing process.

The testing included shutting off lines leading to appliances. Officials said some valves that were 20 to 30 years old had cracks around their seals.

Some appliances have been changed from gas to electric, such as stoves, Gladish said, noting there is no required permit for changing appliances except a furnace or water heater.

Gladish said there were about 25 people conducting the inspections over two days, including several supervisors and technicians from Columbia Gas, contractors, several Medina Village Apartments maintenance workers, Fire Department staff and himself.

Officials did not have a total of how many leaks were discovered and repaired as of Thursday.

A message seeking comment left at the rental office at Medina Village Apartments was not returned. A recording alerts callers that inspections are ongoing and there is no estimate how long crews will be at the complex.

Integrity Realty Group, with a main office in Cleveland Heights, owns the property. According to its website, it has other locations in Cleveland, Berea, Olmsted Falls, Chardon, Kent and the Mahoning Valley.

A Facebook group called “Medina Village residents” was created Thursday where residents in the complex began exchanging comments and information.

One post read: “We’re going to need someone to advocate for us. … Most of us are good, honest hard-working people with no where else to go and no money to try.”

HOW TO HELP

  •  A GoFundMe account with a $10,000 goal was set up Friday. As of Wednesday night, $9,849 had been raised to go toward funeral and medical expenses for the Drakes. Visit www.gofundme.com/med-funeral- costs-for-drake-fam for more.
  •  Contributions for all fire victims may be made to the Medina Village Fire Victims Fund at any FirstMerit Bank in Northeast Ohio.
  •  Financial contributions also may be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and delivered or mailed to St. Francis Xavier Parish, 606 E. Washington St., Medina, OH, 44256. The society asks that a note be included that the donations go to the fire victims. Gift cards also are welcome.
  •  Fire victims may call the St. Vincent de Paul Society at (330) 764-8952 at St. Francis for help.

Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or afox@medina-gazette.com.



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