Numerous code violations led officials to make the decision Tuesday after an inspection made by Bartow County Building Official Tony Tidwell, a state fire marshal and a Bartow County Fire Department battalion chief.
"We just came to a consensus that this place needs to be evacuated as soon as possible, so we gave them 48 hours to evacuate it because, in the event of a fire, it would even put our own firefighters' lives in jeopardy trying to get in there due to collapse of the floors and the structure," Tidwell said. "I really hate it for the people there, but with having the knowledge of it being in that kind of shape, we just had to get people out of there."
"No vacancy" signs hung in the lobby windows Thursday with management refusing to comment on the situation. A resident of The Red Carpet Inn, who wishes to remain anonymous, estimated the number of families effected at 19, many with children and at least one resident facing serious illness. The resident expressed concern for families with nowhere to go but was also very aware of the dangers.
"I feel as though the true owner of this place, whoever has to leave, they should put up for at least a week because there are so many people that have absolutely nowhere to go," the resident said. "There's people just scrounging, and there are some people that still don't know where they're going."
Inspections were made necessary after a stairwell collapsed Sunday at the Budget Host Inn, a nearby motel under the same management. Due to other stairwells in rusty condition and sagging balconies, the second floor of the Budget Host Inn was also condemned and an evacuation ordered.
The Budget Host Inn rents motel rooms weekly, while the Red Carpet Inn lets efficiency apartments typically on a longer basis. Although many residents come and go, the resident speaking to The Daily Tribune News said many at the Red Carpet Inn have been there months and even years.
The most egregious violations were fire code-related at the Red Carpet Inn, including a bottom floor with unprotected wood walls following water damage to the drywall and a lack of fire rated doors and closures in the stairwells.
"[The Red Carpet Inn] is a very old building, built back in the '70s, and I think a lot of it is due to a lack of maintenance. They've got a lot of fire code issues, emergency lighting, means of egress to get out. They've got some deteriorated balconies -- a couple of them actually have fallen in," Tidwell said. "Now we have unprotected wood walls supporting the other two floors, and the way the stair cases are, if you had a fire on the first floor, it could go all the way up the stairwell like a chimney and destroy the whole building."
Tidwell added that as long as people are making an effort, the county may be able to work with them as they try to find a place to stay, but for their own safety, the evacuation is ordered to be completed today.
The concerned resident said Thursday that many residents still do not know where they will relocate to but are beginning the process anyway.
"There are some people here that are packing but they have nowhere to go," the resident said. "There are some people that don't have anything, ... some with no vehicles. They're going to be sitting on the side of the road with their stuff."