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Gas leaks force 29 from central Indiana apartments

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Authorities have ordered the 29 residents of a central Indiana apartment complex to leave their homes until gas leaks found in all five of its buildings can be repaired.

Residents were briefly evacuated from their Arbor Village Apartments homes on Tuesday after leaks were found in three of the complex's five buildings. Those who live in those buildings were given the option of being housed elsewhere or staying put with no gas.

On Wednesday, workers found leaks in the other two buildings and the mayor and city officials declared the complex uninhabitable and ordered everyone out while repairs could be made, Building Commissioner Frank Owens said. A local church was designated as a temporary shelter for the displaced residents, The Herald Bulletin reported.

Arbor Village owner Tom Stanley had offered space heaters to those who chose to remain on Tuesday, before everyone was ordered to leave. He said the apartments would have been safe with the gas shut off while repairs were being made, and that he thinks city and utility officials were being "paranoid" because of the Nov. 10 explosion in Indianapolis that destroyed or damaged dozens of homes and killed a married couple.

"They're not allowing the proper time for us to do our job," Stanley said. "They're demanding things that aren't realistic."

Owens, though, said he was worried about space heaters being used with the buildings' older electrical wiring systems.

"The electrical inspector felt it was unsafe," Owens said. "The mayor and I felt it was in everyone's best interest to evacuate. I couldn't live with the chance that anyone here would be hurt."

Stanley said he has invested nearly $1 million in the complex since buying it three years ago.

"I want my tenants cared for, but moving them out of their homes for weeks isn't the right way to care for them," he said.

Dave Jones, a 64-year-old tenant, said gas leaks should have been fixed immediately. But he also said he was angry that city officials forced the residents to leave without being able to retrieve any belongings.

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