The fire may be out, but tragedy is still alight

Two weeks after fire destroyed the Windermere Court Apartments in West Philadelphia, some victims are frustrated they still haven’t heard from the management company regarding their belongings or their money.

On Jan. 10, a five-alarm blaze ripped through the low-rise building at 48th and Walnut streets, displacing nearly 200 residents. Private realtors have placed some residents, while many are still staying with family and friends or paying for hotels.

“We’d like to get some sort of justice. We should at least get our January rent and security deposit back,” said Denette Lienau, 28, a third-floor resident who has been staying with a friend. The social worker says management has been “virtually unreachable.” “We don’t have anything. We just have the clothes on our back.”

Similar calls have been coming into Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s office. Blackwell, who represents the area affected by the fire, said they have tried to get management to allow residents back in to the get their belongings, but have so far been unsuccessful.

Both Blackwell and Lienau said the residents who have gotten all or part of their security deposits back — roughly $600 to $700 — were asked to sign forms vowing not to sue, despite the fact that the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Several messages left for management were not returned.

Lienau, who wrote an open letter to the public, has been working with other victims to connect residents to resources. “There’s just been nothing, she said. “These are dire circumstances.”

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