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Residents told leases terminated after senior community apartment fire

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LITTLETON, Colo. -- More than 130 senior citizens learned Tuesday that their leases have been terminated after a fire at the Southview Place Towers in Littleton earlier this month.

Resident Rose Sullivan wiped tears away as she recounted the last couple weeks.

"I can hardly walk," she said.

First, the place she had called home for 15 years caught fire on April 6, forcing out 132 residents, including Sullivan.

Citing safety concerns, residents have only been allowed back into the building to pick up personal belongings. Then, Tuesday night at a meeting held by the property owner, residents were told their leases have been terminated.

"Every word today, it was like 'We have no liability,'" said Brend Devlin, whose sister's lease was terminated.

Andy Boian was hired by the property owner, Tevo-Orvis. The company purchased the property in February. Boian said they don't yet know the cause of the fire.

"We have no reason to believe it was something other than an accident," Boian said.

Boian said they know the building's damage will take at least six months to repair and that's why they've decided to terminate the leases of the impacted residents.

"There were asbestos concerns," Boian said. "There were smoke concerns. There was damage to the infrastructure of the building."

The property management has given residents a schedule over the course of 10 days, separated by floor, for them to remove their belongings from the units.

"Our company, along with several other companies, are donating boxes and labor to get everything down to the ground floor," Boian said.

But Sullivan wondered where she would put her belongings with no place to live.

"When we get our stuff out, what's going to happen with the stuff?" she asked.

Boian said the building owner is refunding security deposits, in addition to refunding the prorated rent rate post-fire. They are also donating $500 extra per unit, Boian said. They assured residents that no one will end up homeless, with the help of the American Red Cross.

But Devlin still questioned the quick move out time frame.

"And his response was 'The sooner that we can get the demo done, the reconstruction, the sooner we can help the housing shortage in this area," she said. "And I thought that was an inappropriate response because it indicated the driving force is to recuperate that property for the ownership to have it habitable to rent."

Boian said fire inspectors would be back at the property Wednesday. The official cause of the fire is still under investigation.