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Franklinton Residents Want Landlord Of House Fire Prosecuted
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The landlord whose rental home caught fire Christmas Eve, killing three people, faces unrelated misdemeanor charges in Franklin County Court this morning. Some Franklinton residents plan to hold a rally to remind people of the fatal fire and to push for a felony indictment.
The Franklinton house where three people, including a 4-year-old boy, died is owned by Sam Vazirani. A space heater sparked the blaze. City inspectors deemed the home uninhabitable, but Vazirani was renting it out anyway.
While he has not been charged in connection with that building, he faces charges of ignoring an order to vacate a different property.
Some neighbors want Vazirani charged in connection with the fire. Jed Dearing lives nearby.
“Many of our neighbors are often taken advantage of by these negligent landlords that would get them into these homes, into a lease and then not do the work needed to even keep up the basic necessities for a home,” Dearing said.
Two blocks from Dearing’s home is 178 N. Princeton Avenue. It’s a two story house owned by Vazirani and rented to Brittany Hays.
Hays said she is forced to heat her home with space heaters, and she claims she had no water for a month. The latter issue, Hays said, landed her and her small children at her aunt’s home, also a Vazirani rental. Then a water line burst at her aunt’s house. They could not flush the toilets.
“It was just nasty. After a week it stunk so bad. And she’s moving; she’s not paying her rent because he won’t fix nothing. In order for her to have electricity upstairs the electricity has to be off downstairs,” she said.
Hays said her water issue was finally resolved. But she plans to move soon despite owing back rent.
“I didn’t want to pay him. I didn’t have no water. I wasn’t staying here…I don’t want to break the lease. I get my taxes back I’m supposed to pay him. But on the same hand I don’t want to live in a dump,” Hays said.
Two houses down, in another Vazirani house, Paul Harris has a foot of water in his basement preventing his furnace from working. Harris told us he heats the home with space heaters and his oven.
Vazirani owns 22 houses in Franklin County, many of them like Hays’ and Harris’. Court records indicate he has faced various code violations and received probation for it back in the mid 1990s.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said his office is investigating whether additional charges can be filed.
Phone messages left for Vazirani were not returned.