By Noah Haglund Herald Writer
EVERETT — Today could be the last day city officials allow people to live in a dilapidated downtown apartment building that was the site of a December fire.
The owner of the Hodges building at 1804 Hewitt Ave. had been under a deadline to repair, by today, a dozen apartments damaged in the Dec. 15 blaze, which coincided with a tenant’s overdose death. Even before the fire, the city was working with the owner to ensure that the building’s elevator was in working condition.
“Based on the progress so far, we don’t expect them to meet the April 30 deadline on either issue,” city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said Tuesday.
Landlord Pete Sikov, when reached by phone Tuesday, said he was too busy with other matters to answer questions about the building. By the end of the work day, he had not replied to emailed questions.
There were few signs of activity Tuesday at the 36-unit building at the intersection of Hewitt and Rockefeller avenues. Ground-floor shops stood vacant on either side of the dimly lit main entrance.
City officials believe few occupants remain, Pembroke said. Sikov has yet to request an inspection, which would need to happen before building officials could sign off on the required improvements.
If the code problems remain unresolved, as is expected, the city will revoke the building’s temporary certificate of occupancy, she said. Sikov would then receive a notice informing him to immediately relocate the building’s tenants.
The fire broke out on a Sunday morning 10 days before Christmas. Three dozen occupants managed to escape after fire alarms sounded around 6:40 a.m. Flames shot from the fourth-floor apartment of Wendy A. Pirring, who was found dead inside.
Death investigators in March determined that Pirring, 47, died of a drug and alcohol overdose. Fire officials believe the blaze began near an overloaded electrical outlet in her room, but have not released an exact cause.
The elevator wasn’t the only life-and-safety issue city officials had noted at the Hodges before the fire.
Sikov had been trying to resolve a city condemnation order requiring him to fire-proof the stairwell. By mid-December he had nearly finished that work, city officials have said.
In early February, the city allowed people to return to live there. That happened after building officials certified that fire-proofing had been completed in the stairwell. The building also had to undergo electrical upgrades after the fire.
Another Sikov building on the same block was the site of a fatal fire in November 2012.
Investigators never determined what sparked the three-alarm blaze at the McCrossen building, but found nothing suspicious. Michael D. Beard, 61, died of smoke inhalation. About 40 people were displaced.
The McCrossen Building was demolished last year.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, firstname.lastname@example.org.