Tenants at a Little Rock apartment complex without gas since Monday

Tenants at the Bella Vista Apartment Complex in southwest Little Rock have been without gas for heat, cooking or hot water since Monday. (Photo: KATV)

Tenants at a southwest Little Rock apartment complex say they've been freezing inside their apartments since Monday - and that's not the only problem.

No heat, no gas to cook with and no hot water to wash dishes or bathe. It's been that way for the last four nights for all 180 occupied units at the Bella Vista Apartment complex off Mabelvale Cut Off Road.

Without gas to cook with, Dorothy Avance says she's had to either use the microwave, or order in. Avance has been forced to heat her home with space heaters which almost led to a fire in her apartment early Thursday morning.

"I'm sitting here at the table and I smell burning," said Avance. "I went in the hallway and it was my rug - it was on fire from the heater."

Avance's neighbor Deborah Thomas said she's on disability and it's been unbearable inside her apartment.

"I woke up the other morning and God knows I almost froze to death in my apartment," wept Thomas. "They aren't saying nothing and they ain't even trying to say what we're supposed to do out here."

According to Bella Vista complex management that didn't want to appear on camera, the issue started when JLC Communications, a subcontractor of Entergy Arkansas, started digging to lay underground wires. In the process, crews forJLC struck a gas line behind one of the complex buildings.

Repairs have been made to the initial gas leak, but when inspectors with the city of Little Rock went to the check the line before restoring gas service, pressure wasn't high enough denoting another leak elsewhere in the system. Crews have been attempting to locate the secondary leak, but so far no luck.

City officials including code enforcement, the assistant city manager and city board member Joan Adcock, went to meet with Entergy, the subcontractor, Centerpoint Energy and complex management to see how quickly repairs can be made.

A spokesperson for Entergy Arkansas released this statement, explaining the situation:

“In early October, Entergy Arkansas had calls about an outage at the Bella Vista apartment complex. Earlier in the week, we sent contractors out to replace underground primary service to the complex. During the repair work, our contractor hit a private gas line, which is typically not marked.

“In order to repair the gas line, Entergy’s contractor needed a permit from the city. The damaged line was repaired on Tuesday. However, in order to turn the gas back on, the facilities must meet state code. We are doing everything within reason to work with the owner of the complex, but we can’t be responsible for bringing his entire complex up to code.”

Director Adcock told KATV, the Metropolitan Housing Alliance (Little Rock Housing Authority) has roughly 20 tenants living in Bella Vista apartments on vouchers. According to Adcock, MHA has given crews 24 hours to make the repairs or they're moving those tenants elsewhere. As for the other tenants, it appears they're on their own for now.

"They ought to be putting people up in a hotel or something," cried Thomas. "The temperature's steadily dropping lower and lower and I don't know what I'm supposed to do."

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