A series of fire code violations forced dozens of businesses including a U.S. Post Office to shutter this week at the Town and Country West strip mall in Sacramento’s Arden-Arcade neighborhood.
An application was submitted to the county for a special event permit at the building on Fulton Avenue that triggered a fire inspection -- When both the Sacramento County and Metro Fire Department inspectors arrived, they both noticed immediate building and fire code violations, said Captain Chris Vestal with the Sacramento Metro Fire Department.
“Severe violations of the nature that required immediate closure of the building,” Vestal said.
The fire code violations include inadequate fire suppression, detection, and alarm systems. There is also unpermitted construction including a breach in firewalls, which are meant to halt fires from spreading to other areas of the building.
A closed hearing between Sacramento County and the Town and Country West building owner took place Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the County headquarters on Armstrong Avenue in Mather.
County officials are likely to discuss what must be done to the building in the short-term for tenants to return and what must be done in the long-term for the building to stay open.
Michael Moser is a consultant who represents the building owner of 17 years, Dr. Janak Mehtani.
Moser said Mehtani did not know about the code violations before the department made him aware. He said the owner would have addressed the issues without going to the extreme of forcing evacuations but the meeting with county officials was productive.
"Everybody will be back to business next week," Mehtani said.
The fire department and county is willing to do an expedited plan review to get businesses back up and running, Vestal said.
Bryan Childers, 48, who suffers from bi-polar disorder and depression, showed up for an appointment with his doctor only to find the office was closed.
He was confused and frustrated because he didn't receive a cancelation call. Now he is trying to figure out how to get a hold of his doctor to move forward.
“Without my medication I can go back into state of depression," Childers said.
Enrique Viduarri is the owner of Bolt Insurance which employs several people in the office inside the Town and Country building.
"All these businesses are taking a huge hit and the thing is we didn’t even get a prior warning," Viduarri said.
His second floor business was first told they could move to another office on the ground level, then were later told they must evacuate completely.
He said he was given just hours to evacuate which may be where the confusion for customers came in. Viduarri has already made arrangements to his office to a new location in another building in the area.
On Thursday, the U.S. Post Office which relocated its post office boxes at the Town & Country location to the Sacramento Centre Branch at 3545 El Camino Avenue. The postal service issued the following statement about the closure:
“The Postal Service apologizes for the short and abrupt notice to our postal patrons, but we were just made aware of this situation yesterday,” a U.S. Postal Service press release wrote. “We apologize for this inconvenience to our customers and are in the process of working with the building owner to see when we can return to the location.”
The building had not been inspected in some time because of its type of use and occupancy, Vestal said. Mandated yearly inspections are only required at places where large crowds typically gather like schools, jails and other venues.