Apartment fire leaves residents with few options


Photo: Katie Lovan/Iowa State Daily

A fire broke out at 230 Campus Ave. on Thursday. According to witnesses, the fire started in a pile of leaves outside the building and moved inside.

Alex Erb

When an apartment fire damaged the rooms of several ISU students last week, they were left wondering where they would be staying until things could be resolved.

To several students, the owners of the building that was damaged, First Property Management, seemed to offer some help.

Eric Doll, senior in landscape architecture who had to leave his apartment, received a call from the property management company the night of the fire.

“They said they had a hotel lined up for me to stay in,” Doll said. “But then they never called me back. When I went to their office the next day to ask them about it, they told me it was a $48 a night hotel and that it was at my expense.”

Doll, who was under the impression that First Property would be covering the cost of his new arrangements, was not at all happy to hear this.

Morgan Cacey, who lived in the apartment directly below the one that was most severely damaged, was out of town during the time of the fire.

“I didn’t even know there was a fire until my roommate called me about it,” she said.

She said she was never contacted by First Property Management about the incident, and when she called them to ask, they claimed that the fire was in a different building.

Cacey also said First Property claimed to be putting people up in hotels and that “everything would be fine.”

Cacey later received a picture message from her friend of the damage to the outside of their building. She said that First Property never called her again regarding the fire.

Both Cacey and Doll have been staying with friends until they can arrange new leases in new apartments. Neither plan to return to First Property Management.

“I wasn’t happy with how First Property had handled other things in the past, so this was like the last straw,” Cacey said.

Mike Frisk, of First Property Management and a member of the Ames Rental Association, said First Property handled the situation the best it could.

Frisk said he offered to put students in hotels the first night, but a lot of them had different options.

“From my end, we called everybody from the office and we offered up that first night,” Frisk said.

He said he was offering the hotel rooms from his own pocket and insurance wouldn’t have paid for them.

“We talked to people again the next day. It happened late. I didn’t know about the fire until about 7:30 p.m.,” Frisk said. “It was kind of a whirlwind. Some kids were out of the area … We called at least one person per unit that was displaced.”

He said students were all told about their options.

Frisk said First Property Management only had one extra apartment available, but the company is helping displaced students find new places to live.