Hillsborough County Code Enforcement finds problems at Harbour Walk apartment complex

Residents are nervous after 2 fires in 2 months

TAMPA, Fla. - For the second day in a row, Hillsborough County Code Enforcement crews were out at Harbour Walk Apartments on Thursday combing the complex.

Members of code enforcement were looking for potential problem spots after the second fire in two months ignited Wednesday.

The fire damaged 14 units and destroyed six.

"We came back this morning, walked the property, looking for obvious signs of any kind of life safety issues and any other code violations," said Jim Blinck, Operations Manager of Hillsborough County Code Enforcement.

Turns out, they found them.

"We found some electrical issues with loose panel boxes, some missing the dead front covers," Blinck said.

Blinck also reported finding some structural issues with loose coverings. However, according to code enforcement, these are considered more of a maintenance concern. Blinck says they are not the type of problems that would have started something like Wednesday's fire.

Code Enforcement will be back to visit the complex within seven days to make sure they've resolved these issues.

But that is not urgent enough if you ask Harbour Walk residents like Daniel Martinez. He spoke to ABC Action News on Thursday wearing some of the only clothes he had left.

"It gave me nightmares last night," Martinez said.

Martinez and his mom lost everything they owned Wednesday. Cell phone video taken by their neighbors showed their Town N' Country apartment completely engulfed in flames.

Now, demanding answers, Martinez hopes something will be done before another fire breaks out.

"There's children in here. You cannot be having fires with children in here," said Martinez.

The Harbour Walk apartment complex has a long history of complaints with the county code enforcement office.  According to Blinck, that includes an instance in 2009 where the county had to use their enforcement tool, the code enforcement board hearing process, to motivate the complex to fix some of their issues so they'd be in compliance with code.

ABC Action News reached out to apartment management for comment, but as of Thursday evening we're still waiting for a response.

The cause of Wednesday's fire remains under investigation.

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