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Aug 27th
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Officials report on senior apartment complex fire damage, repairs; resident who was hospitalized dies

  Officials report on senior apartment complex fire damage, repairs; resident who was hospitalized dies

LAKEPORT, Calif. – This week authorities identified the woman who died in a Lakeport senior apartment complex fire last weekend, reported that one of the injured residents who had been hospitalized had died and that accommodations for the displaced residents have been secured while repairs are made.

On Friday the repairs were under way at the Lakeview Senior Housing complex at 525 Bevins St., where security guards were posted and chain link fence had been placed around the facility to secure it in the wake of the Sunday evening fire.

The 36-unit complex, originally built in 1988 and renovated last year, is managed by Rural Communities Housing Development Corp. of Ukiah and owned by an entity of RCHDC called Pine Gardens I.

“Both are nonprofit organizations committed to providing decent and affordable housing to low income persons and families,” said RCHDC Chief Executive Officer Brad McDonald.

One woman died during the incident. Lakeport Police Chief Brad Rasmussen identified her as 52-year-old Deborah Dianne Dowdy.

Rasmussen said investigators believe Dowdy had gotten out of the 36-unit complex but had gone back in for an unknown reason.

Firefighters found her body in an elevator during a sweep of the building, Rasmussen said.

Dowdy's cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy conducted this week and toxicology testing, Rasmussen said.

Four other people were injured in the incident, including one woman who was burned and transported to UC Davis Medical Center and three people taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, according to Rasmussen.

On Friday, word came that one of the three patients at Sutter Lakeside Hospital had died, according to McDonald.

“We were not formally informed what the cause of death was but have heard that it was the result of a heart attack,” he said.

McDonald said the other two patients at Sutter Lakeside Hospital were released on Friday.

He said all of the complex's 36 units had tenants at the time of the fire.

This week, city officials, working with RCHDC, worked to find accommodations for the displaced residents, about a third of whom had stayed at a shelter run by the Red Cross at the Lakeport Seventh-day Adventist Church, as Lake County News has reported.

As of Friday afternoon, McDonald said all residents who had requested or needed interim housing had been taken care of and are in three different lodging facilities in Lake County.

“The Lakeport Senior Center has been invaluable assisting with transportation necessary to get folks to their interim lodging,” he said.

The center also had been a short-term stopover for the complex's residents on Sunday night, where officials assessed their needs before moving those who needed shelter via Lakeport Transit buses to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

McDonald recognized the “tremendous support and an incredible response from volunteers” for the temporary placement and care of the residents at the church's shelter.

He also recognized RCHDC staff, including the regional manager responsible for the property and the corporate facilities director for doing an outstanding job of meeting the needs of tenants and facilitating their transition to interim housing, and quickly mobilizing the insurance company and ServPro, the company hired to prepare the property for the residents to return.

In addition, the complex's site manager and site maintenance supervisor did an outstanding job assisting with the transition of residents plus helping at the scene of the fire with the evacuation and care of the residents the night the fire occurred, McDonald said.

McDonald said that while there was no serious structural damage to the property, it will not be able to be reoccupied for eight to 10 weeks while repairs are under way.

He said RCHDC won't know the full extent of the cost of the damages for two to three weeks more, once the nonprofit's insurance adjuster has reported back.

Work to remediate smoke and water damage began on Tuesday, and by Friday McDonald said “great progress” had been made.

Rasmussen said the investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing.

“We're still interviewing residents and different folks and working with the fire investigators,” said Rasmussen, who reported that Lakeport Police Det. Dale Stoebe is participating in the inquiry.

Rasmussen said he expects the investigative process to take up to six weeks in order for the completion all of the reports – including those related to Dowdy's death – and witness interviews.

Email Elizabeth Larson at . Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews.


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