Building Involved in Explosion Failed Rental Inspection

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A building that exploded on Sunday displacing seven renters and closing two businesses, failed a rental inspection in March.
According to public records, the building failed the inspection on March 20th after six major safety violations were found. The violations included lack of a carbon monoxide detector and a missing smoke detector. A gas grill, deemed a fire hazard by the inspectors, was ordered removed from a common deck.
Code Violations at 104 W. Union
Both Athens Fire Chief Robert Rymer and Rick Sirois, director of code enforcement in Athens, said the violations were not life-threatening and they do not believe they were a factor in the incident.
A follow-up inspection had been scheduled for April 24th. City records show that the building passed its rental inspection in 2017.
The building, built in 1900, was approved for a rental permit in 2008. The permit was filed by current owner Maxine Rantane, who ran for Athens City Council in 2015.
Rantane, who also owns Cycle Path Bicycles, purchased the property in 1998 for $200,000.
Rantane was unable to be reached for comment.
The explosion at 104 West Union Street left one person hospitalized in critical condition and destroyed three apartments.
View of Collapsed Building

While the cause of the explosion is still under investigation, the State Fire Marshal’s office and Rymer agree that an explosion did occur.

“From the initial evidence we received, from the initial call, the sound, as well as the evidence of what the scene looked like when we were down there, I am understanding it was an explosion,” Rymer said.
Columbia Gas said its investigation showed their gas lines were not the cause of the explosion.
Effect on Residents
According to the Athens Fire Department, apartment number six was the source of the explosion, but apartments five and seven were severely damaged as well.
Bennis Pavisian, a resident of apartment five, left just thirty minutes before the explosion.
“I might be walking on borrowed time right now,” he said. “Something could’ve happened.”
While other residents displaced from the building found places to stay with family and friends, Pavisian, a first-year medical student at OHIO, chose to stay in a hotel Sunday and Monday nights.
“All my furniture is obviously destroyed,” he said. “My computer, my books, my med school books, my stethoscope, all that stuff is pretty much gone.”
Ohio University has been working with the affected students to find housing. The university is also offering professional counseling for those needing emotional support.