Days after Dunwoody apartment explosion, residents told to move out

Residents of the Arrive Perimeter apartment complex in Dunwoody were told they have until Oct. 31 to move out.

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Residents of the Arrive Perimeter apartment complex in Dunwoody were told they have until Oct. 31 to move out.

Tenants smelled gas for months leading up to Sunday’s blast, attorneys say

Days after an explosion rocked a Dunwoody apartment building, more than 400 tenants of the Arrive Perimeter complex were told to find a new place to live.

An email sent to residents Friday informed them they would have until Halloween to pack their belongings and move out.

One of the three buildings at the complex exploded and partially collapsed Sunday afternoon, injuring at least four people and displacing dozens more, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. The complex’s leasing office was also damaged in the blast.

Several residents complained of smelling gas in the hallways and parking garage for months leading up to Sunday’s explosion, and an Atlanta Gas Light technician was en route to investigate a complaint when the blast occurred.

Gas service was later shut off to the entire complex after officials discovered “appliance and fuel line issues within the buildings” during an initial inspection.

ExploreLawyers: Residents smelled gas for months leading up to Dunwoody apartment explosion

Some residents were given temporary hotel rooms nearby, but others stayed behind because they were unable to find rooms that would accommodate their pets, according to Atlanta attorney Chris Stewart, who is representing at least six of the residents.

“What happened never should have occurred,” he said. “The complex and its management company played Russian roulette with the lives of countless individuals.”

Jasmine Johnson, 30, had just gotten out of bed when the blast shook her building, ripping the screen door off her balcony and sending her flying into the wall of her second-story unit, she said Thursday.

Johnson moved into the complex in February, but began noticing the rotten egg-scented chemical added to natural gas as early as May, she said. The smell got worse in the days leading up to the explosion, and became so strong that she complained about the odor to her roommate.

“I’ve been smelling that smell around the apartment for weeks, months,” she said. “But it was so strong three days prior to the incident.”

Of the four residents injured in the explosion, one had a severe burn and one suffered a broken leg, DeKalb County fire officials said. Two others were treated for minor injuries.

Following the weekend blast, utilities to the complex were shut off indefinitely so property management could inspect each unit and make the necessary repairs. By Friday, however, all 400-plus residents were told they would have to move permanently, Dunwoody city spokeswoman Jennifer Boettcher said, calling it “a full-on move out.”

A copy of the email was obtained through an open records request.

“It has become apparent that we will not be able to quickly return gas service to our residents,” the letter read. “We, unfortunately, cannot commit to a reasonable timeline to restore hot water, heat or functional gas ranges, and without a clear date of that return of gas service, we feel that the prudent action is to vacate the property.”

City officials said because the repairs could take so long, property management didn’t want anyone living there without heat as the weather starts to cool.

Explore‘Fuel line issues’ found at Dunwoody apartments that exploded, officials say

Because it’s such a large complex, Arrive Perimeter said it is limiting move-outs to just 15 per day ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline, according to the letter. None of the remaining residents are being charged rent, and any fees associated with breaking a lease have been waived. Residents may receive their security deposits back pending a walk-through following move-out, they were told.

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Tremaine Holifield (left) and Rmgud Allen, who were staying at the Arrive Perimeter apartment complex in Dunwoody, head out with their packed bags after an explosion damaged their building Sunday.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Tremaine Holifield (left) and Rmgud Allen, who were staying at the Arrive Perimeter apartment complex in Dunwoody, head out with their packed bags after an explosion damaged their building Sunday.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Combined ShapeCaption
Tremaine Holifield (left) and Rmgud Allen, who were staying at the Arrive Perimeter apartment complex in Dunwoody, head out with their packed bags after an explosion damaged their building Sunday.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Arrive Perimeter will continue to offer hotels in the immediate area until the end of September.

“We are saddened by the events of this past week as both our residents and staff were directly impacted,” the apartment complex’s letter said. “You will not be charged rent for the balance of your tenure at Arrive Perimeter and we hope we can fully open and safely serve our community within the coming months.”

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.