Apartment fires break out in Antioch | Pith in the wind
Fires have broken out in five buildings in Antioch this year. In late June, fires swept through Foxcroft Apartments, Arbors at Brentwood and British Woods Apartments in the space of five days. No deaths were reported, but several people, including firefighters, were hospitalized. Displaced by the disaster, families struggle to find new places to live.
Southeast Nashville apartment complexes make up most of Nashville disappear quickly inventory of units allowing a family to rent for $1,000 or less per month. Foreign companies and wealthy investors own numerous complexes in Antioch, sometimes managing hundreds of units at a time. Many are occupied by families who have recently moved to the United States from Central America and Mexico.
The Nashville Fire Department struggled to determine the cause of these apartment fires. The office is understaffed, like many Metro departments, and this year’s budget is seeking to nearly double the employees of the Nashville Fire Prevention Office – which is responsible for investigations and inspections – from 23 to 40.
Last month’s fire at The Villages at Dover Glen, owned by regional owner Schatten Properties, burned eight units and forced some residents to jump out of windows. After a thorough investigation, inspectors closed the investigation, leaving the cause “undetermined”. A fire in February in Harding Glen, a few blocks from Foxcroft, was ruled “accidental caused by electrical wiring”, according to NFD spokeswoman Kendra Loney. The charred facade of Harding Glen is still visible from Harding Pike.
On Wednesday, a fire broke out at Foxcroft Apartments, a five-building complex off Harding Pike. He destroyed Building B, threatening dozens of families in 20 homes.
These families gathered in Plaza Mariachi on Saturday to connect with humanitarian organizations such as the Hispanic Family Foundation, Workers’ Dignity and the Red Cross. as after other natural disasters, fire aid is a complicated patchwork of communication and paperwork. Many of Saturday’s attendees moved to the United States from Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala, and most of the event was held in Spanish.
Lazaro and Chrystal had lived in Foxcroft’s B7 for two years with their three children, two cats and a puppy. The two work full-time — Chrystal at Twice Daily and Lazaro at a distribution center in La Vergne — and paid $950 a month for their one-bedroom unit. Lazaro was home with their children when the fire broke out. Right now, they are living in a donated hotel room, fearing that the temporary help will soon dry up.
“Everything is high,” Lazaro told the Stage. “Security deposit, first month’s rent, it’s two or three thousand dollars for a room. They ask you to make three times the amount of the rent. We’re going to figure it out one way or another – jostle, refocus and reboot.
The neighborhood children attend Wright Middle School and Paragon Mills Elementary, where Lazaro and Chrystal’s three children are students. Liz Tingler, third-grade teacher at Paragon Mills, said raised over $5,000 in direct support to students. According to Tingler, more than 50 countries are represented in the Paragon Mills student body by families who have recently immigrated to the United States.
“People come to America looking for a better life, but what does it mean when they have to start over? Tingler said. “Or documents get lost in a fire?” We provided families with Visa gift cards to meet their immediate needs — food, supplies for young children, clothing. We expect the rest to go towards rent or deposits for a new home, wherever that may be. I hope it’s close.
Foxcroft is part of the real estate portfolio of Belle Meade resident Rob Blagojevich of the Chicago Blagojeviches. In 2008 and 2009, Rob was indicted along with his brother Rod, a former governor and congressman from Illinois, on a series of federal charges related to Rod’s campaign, for which Rob helped raise funds. The indictments allege a pattern racketeering, extortion and attempted solicitation of bribes, including in relation to the US Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. Rod served eight years of a 14-year prison sentence before it was commuted by Donald Trump in 2020.
In the back corner of Plaza Mariachi on Saturday, Rob Blagojevich sat in a folding chair with his property manager. He said he has had fires in the past and is prepared, legally, for potential liability.
“We have no idea of the details,” Blagojevich told the Stage. “We are especially concerned about the people here. We refunded their deposits, pro-rated the remaining June rent, and gave them one thousand dollars each per unit.
Blagojevich says he can offer residents the option of moving into another of his properties in East Nashville, where he has vacancies.