Country Club Villas residents made to sign waivers to get property

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DENVER -- Dozens of residents who were chased from their homes by fire on Wednesday were back at the complex trying to recover property they left behind while escaping the blaze.

“We couldn’t get our passports, visas or even money left on our dresser,” LaSondra Johnson said. “But investor-owners of individual units would only let the renters back in if they would sign a waiver absolving them of any long-term liability. We are not going to sign because we do not know how dangerous the asbestos contamination might be.”

The fire displaced dozens, who were forced to evacuate after a fire accidentally started in a kitchen of first-floor apartment that spread to the rest of the condos, leaving some trapped on upper-level apartments. Several residents jumped from windows to escape the fire at 8822 E. Florida Ave.

Many of the residents are foreigners who need green cards, driver’s licenses and passports to maintain their legal status. But the flames forced them out before they could grab papers to keep them a step ahead of the law.

It is why many signed waivers and donned contamination suits to get a five-minute opportunity to go in and grab what they could. Many came out huffing and puffing from the grab-bag spree.

Tenants said state health tests are due in a couple of weeks. Until then, they have to hope their possessions will be safe in the building, which, because of asbestos, could be deemed uninhabitable.

According to the Cunningham Fire Protection District, the fire was determined to be accidental because of improper disposal of materials.

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