Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Apartment fire in Salt Lake, owners screwed

As many of you probably saw on the news last night, some apartments in Salt Lake had a gas leak which exploded, turning many people out of their homes. My friend Hunter lives there. Fortunately his apartment was OK and nobody was hurt in the explosion.

After the initial shock wore off, my first assumption was that Questar had another PR nightmare on their hands. But after reading KSL's coverage (from which I quote extensively here. And thanks for the pic guys. Really. You're the best.) I realized the apartment owners are actually the ones in a world of hurt.

If you like PR-cringe-inducing quotes, check these out:

One resident said, "...he contacted the complex's maintenance crew to fix the leak on several occasions, but nothing was done."

Charmaine Harmon, another resident said, "...she'd smelled natural gas so strong it made her nauseous. She says Country Lake's maintenance crew didn't fix it. 'It's been weeks, and we've been trying to get them to do something about it,' she said. 'We've had exposed gas lines and everything since we moved in.'"

Ouch. But wait! There's more! This time from the owners of the property:

"Country Lake Apartments are owned by Alliance Residential Company, a national property management group. A spokeswoman from Colorado arrived today but refused to give us her name."


"We have since identified her as Kelli Billman, a vice president of operations for the company.

She tells us her number-one concern is for the residents, but she refused to comment on Harmon's allegations. Upon further questioning, she threatened to have us removed from the property."

WOW. I'm no PR expert, but I'm pretty sure that's not how you're supposed to do things.

Any random PR gurus (or armchair PR gurus) feel like commenting on the situation?