A Hot Summer it Was

A Hot Summer it Was 
By: Nicholas A. Dunlap, CPM

By most accounts, this was a boring summer.  That is, there were no vacations, a day off (or two) at best and lots of work.  Not work in a good sense either, work in the overbearing, early-in-the-morning and late-at-night just busy-work sense.   Complaints aside, I did learn a thing or two and now have under my belt one of the experiences that property owners dread the most.  

The Fire

Anytime commercial property owners and managers sit down and discuss horror stories that have occurred over their years in the business, the topic of “worst disaster” often arises.  And while we have certainly been through earthquakes, a three-alarm fire was a new experience.  Sure, we have had a small fire caused by a tenant, or even an electrical short that caused damage to a unit.  But never have I experienced first-hand a fire where anyone who happened to turn on the news, read the paper or talk to anyone in Orange County definitely knew about how I spent my weekend.

The Day Of

Talk about chaos…there were crowds of people up and down the block, the one major avenue used to directly access the property was blocked off from it’s two closest cross streets and boy, there were solicitors galore.  I counted between 14 and 16 fire engines present at the scene.  That includes both the Anaheim Fire Department and the Orange County Fire Authority.  We had about ten total newscasters and television stations, radio stations, the OC Register, the LA Times; it was big.  Picture yourself as the ringleader in one of those old circus films where the animals go berserk and the performers subsequently panic.  And there you are, holding things together as you realize the tent is slowly collapsing.  

The City 

Anaheim had a lot going on this summer in terms of gang activity, police-involved shootings, community outcry and political turmoil.  Although it would be easy to lump this incident in with the other unfortunate occurrences, I see this as an opportunity to recognize the good in mankind.  From our Resident Manager Jason’s efforts on-site the day of the fire to his persistent follow-through after the fact, from the residents who assisted in alerting their neighbors to those who tried to combat the fire before the fire department arrived, from the efforts of the Red Cross to the efforts of neighboring property owners and residents who donated food, clothes and other items to those in need of such basic necessities, it was pretty amazing to see the neighborhood come together the way it did.

The Aftermath 

While there was significant damage and destruction to the building, there were no injuries to any humans or pets.  And after the fire was put out, the rebuilding process began.  Some residents lost everything and had nowhere to go.  Fortunately, we were able to work with many of them to help them relocate to another community in our portfolio.  Additionally, due to our favorable relationship with the Anaheim Housing Authority, we were able to arrange for a list of similar communities in a comparable price range to help get them started on the path to rebuilding.