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Residents affected by Bayside apartment fire may have to pay to get their belongings

NOW: Residents affected by Bayside apartment fire may have to pay to get their belongings

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some residents who lost their home in the Bayside apartment fire March 30 are now upset after finding out it may cost them to get back into their home to retrieve their belongings.

Martha Reitman was one of the dozens of residents who lost their home. She was rescued from her balcony.

“I saw my whole living room ablaze just on fire,” Reitman said.

Since that day, residents haven’t been able to go back into the building and many like Martha did not have renters insurance.

“I pretty much lost everything,” she said. “We’re anxious to get in there.”

Thursday residents got an email from Paul Davis Restoration telling residents they can retrieve items from their apartments for them, but it will come at a cost. An anonymous resident sent CBS 58 the e-mail. The email offers 30 minutes in each apartment for $250 that would need to be paid before any work began.

“For us to pay $250 to go into what was our home to recover things that are ours seems really ridiculous,” Reitman said.

Katz Properties owns the apartment. The property manager says they asked Paul Davis to come with a plan to help residents salvage some of their belongings, but the property manager says the email that was sent to residents was never approved.

In a statement, Paul Davis says they “did offer our services to anyone at White Oaks Apartments that may have wanted them, but in no way have forced our services or required anyone to use us to help them.”

They also said in an email to CBS 58’s Tori Bokios:

As a company, we came up with a flat rate for each unit, that can be entered safely. Our services that we are offering for this fee are to provide 3-4 technicians donned in full PPE (Tyvek suits, gloves, respirators, hard hats, safety footwear, etc) to enter and retrieve any items, for someone that has secured our services, voluntarily.

Our goal is to provide a service to the tenants who have hired our company, to possibly preserve any belongings that may not be too far gone from the fire/water/soot/exposure within the building. As previously discussed, we have had several tenants secure our services, and they are elated that we are able to help them retrieve some of their more important items. We intend to follow through with the tenants that have hired us, and provide them with the exemplary service that we are known for in the region. We are also more than willing to give any advice to other tenants that may need help in understanding the process.”

Although Reitman is holding onto hope that her family photos can be saved, she’s just thankful that everyone made it out safely.

“What’s important is still here and that’s all of our lives,” she said.

White Oaks says they are looking into no-cost options for residents to retrieve their belongings.

They will be having a meeting on Tuesday with residents and all of the insurance companies involved.

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