Mom forced to jump out window with kids says fire part of ongoing nightmare at NW Houston apartments

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Residents claim fire was just one incident in an ongoing nightmare

HOUSTON — Residents of a northwest Houston apartment complex are crying out against an allegedly neglectful management staff after their building caught fire in an incident, which one family claims was the inevitable consequence of the apartment's unsuitable living conditions.

Audrey Richardson, who is staying with her mother, said her first priority was saving her 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son when flames broke Monday morning at the Coppertree Village Apartments in the 1400 block of W. Gulf Bank Road. She said the fire started in the family's living room.

The young mother said she, her children, the children's grandmother, her sister and her boyfriend were forced to break a window in order to escape. Richardson said her sister jumped out first, so she could catch the youngest child as she came down.

"I grabbed my other baby and went after her," Richardson said. "My sister started screaming instantly, and that's when my boyfriend came behind her, and my mama she came last. She was scared to jump out the window." 

The mother said the family, including the children, received cuts and scrapes on their arms and legs as a result of the fall.

Sadly, the fire was only one chapter in the family's nightmarish stay at the complex, Richardson said.

"[The] lights were out for more than two days," Richardson said. "I'm going to tell you right now; this is just the icing on the cake— these apartments been bad. If it ain't mold, it's something else going out in your apartment. When you tell them about it, they don't do anything about it— nothing at all."

Residents said the building has been without electricity since Friday, but claim power outages have been an ongoing problem for the apartment complex.

"We've been calling CenterPoint. They never came, all they've been saying is they're working on it. But nothing's been done," another resident Lamequa Lillie said.

Richardson and Lillie said no power has lead to other problems for residents, many of who have small children and some who have medical problems. The tenants voiced concerns about enduring a sweltering summer without air conditioning, groceries rotting inside powerless refrigerators and other atrocities.

"Everybody food is going bad. Me and my kids have nothing to eat— nothing to eat," Richardson said.  When you call [those] people, they do nothing. They'll tell you accuses after accuses. They will never do anything about it— nothing. These apartments need to be shut down. These apartments been up since 1970s, and they have not been rebuilt at all."

Next to power, Richardson said her family's biggest concern is a potential mold infestation developing inside the apartment.

"It's so much mold in there, we can't even take a bath in our tub because the mold has took over," Richardson said.

In the past, Lillie and Richardson said residents have reached out to the city for rescue but to no benefit.

"We have to threaten to call the city, and when the city come out, [apartment management] turn them right back around," Richardson said. "It's times when my kids have been up in there with no air. We still didn't have no air way before the fire. We was using the AC unit."

Richard said, "These apartments don't care about no one— nobody at all. And for this to happen just for the news to come out here. This is sad."