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Genetti complex apartment building ruled unlivable

More than one hundred people are living in hotels across the city of Wilkes-Barre after a fire forced them out of their apartments.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — "Extensive," that's what officials say the damage is like inside the Genetti complex apartment building on East Market Street.

It caught fire overnight on Tuesday.  

City officials gave an update on the building, though the cause is still under investigation.

"The building has been posted pursuant to the city code as not habitable. It means no one can come in. There is some limited access through the landlord, but it's restricted at the present time," said Charles McCormick, Wilkes-Barre City Administrator.

One man died in the fire. Four others needed to be rescued.

More than 120 adults and seven children are now living at various hotels throughout the city and are being helped by the Red Cross.

Sherry Nealon is an executive director for the organization.

"This is a very large case file, caseload for us. We've never had, as long as I have been on, which is a while, but we've never had this big of fire and all the victims needing places at the same time," said Nealon.

City officials say it will be some time before people can live in the place again.

The property owner will need to review with the city any proposed repairs needed to bring the property back up to proper code.

"It's kind of hard to put a time frame on this. I am sure the insurance company and the owner will want to get going as soon as possible. They need to present a plan to make sure the remedial work is done properly, and that plan needs to be reviewed before construction can get started. Everything going on with COVID and supply chain issues, I am hoping it gets done sooner rather than later," said Butch Frati, Director of Operations.

The Red Cross, along with other organizations, will continue to help fire victims for as long as they can.

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