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Spring Valley tenants say fire burned for hours overnight before alarms sounded

Frustrated tenants say fire alarms went off 2 hours late
Frustrated tenants say fire alarms went off 2 hours late 02:17

SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. -- Dozens of people are out of their homes after a fire broke out in the middle of the night at their apartment complex in Spring Valley

Frustrated residents said the fire was the second in two months at the Surrey Carlton Apartments on Slinn Avenue.

They also said it took hours for the fire alarms to go off. 

Valerie Britt has been living there for 12 years. She said her family woke up to the smell of smoke. 

"No fire alarms, no bells ringing, no nothing," said Britt. 

The Spring Valley Fire Department confirmed residents started smelling smoke at around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, but the complex's alarm system did not detect the fire, which started in the crawl space, until two hours later. 

The fire department said that's when firefighters were dispatched, and added several residents called 911. 

"We smelled smoke. Me and one of my neighbors from the top floor, we went outside and walked around the whole building. As we're looking up, we can just see smoke coming out. No fire alarms, no nothing," said Angela Smartt. 

Officials said around 80 residents were displaced and receiving aid from the Red Cross. 

While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, residents told CBS New York they feel unsafe returning because another fire started in the building in Dec. 2023. 

"Here we are two months later and now the whole, everybody's out," said Britt. 

The fire department confirmed it was an electrical fire involving a hallway light. In fact, after the December fire, a flier was posted telling residents to call 911 themselves since the building's system would not alert authorities. 

"Whatever you're doing to repair it, it's not working," said Britt

"Even if they fix this, who is to say that none of this is going to happen again," said Smartt.

The fire chief said the alarm system was working on Sunday, but that the building has had electrical issues and management has done work without proper permits in the past. 

We reached out to the complex for comment, but have not yet heard back. 

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