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Covington Fire Dept. shuts down rooming house on Clark St.

Photo by Erin Evans

Photo by Erin Evans

COVINGTON -- The residents of a rooming house located at 2114 Clark St. will be officially evacuated today due to life safety issues, according to the Covington Fire Department.

Assistant FIre Marshal Capt. Tony Smith said the evacuations follow the signing of a consent order and mutual agreement between the city and owner of the establishment, Ricky Mock.

Smith said the CFD was first alerted to potential violations in February and upon inspection found a host of problems, the most serious of which is deemed "life safety issues." Those violations included a lack of fire sprinklers, smoke and fire alarms and fire extinguishers. Also, the electrical circuits were extremely overloaded.

"This has been going on for a while. I did the initial inspection on Feb. 17 and made contact with Mr. Mock. At that time there were at least 18 persons living there," Smith said.

Smith said Mock was advised of the modifications that would have to be made in order for the establishment to be in compliance with local ordinances and during follow-up inspections he noticed that only small modifications had been made and that the larger and more expensive items had been left undone.

"We went to court in July," Smith said. "He pleaded guilty to the violations and the building has been deemed uninhabitable."

Smith said it is unknown how long the building has been used as rooming house as it has also been operating without a business license or other necessary permits from the city. Smith said the violations came to light due to a city code enforcement officer checking on why there was furniture out in the yard. He tried to contact the house's primary resident and noted the presence of multiple people. He also saw that there were potential fire safety violations and contacted the CFD.

Smith said the court process ended when the consent order was signed on Aug. 3 and the CFD began notifying residents of the impending evacuation of the establishment.

"We tried to make contact with all the residents, but because we don't know for sure how many there are, we don't know if we talked to everybody, but out of courtesy we have tried to give them extra time," Smith said.

He said the official evacuation will begin at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and residents will have the opportunity to remove their possessions until 6:30 p.m.

The Newton County Sheriff's Office was on the scene Monday afternoon conducting evictions at the request of the landlord.