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2 Hurricane motels are shut down

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The city of Hurricane and the Putnam County Health Department shut down two motels Tuesday after the owner failed to clean up "absolutely filthy" conditions, Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards said Tuesday.

The American Inn and the Budget Inn motels, both owned by Navnit Sangani, are next to each other on Hurricane Creek Road. They were given lists of things to fix and clean up last month, Edwards said.

The city received numerous complaints from Appalachian Power workers about the hotel after the June 29 massive windstorm that knocked out power to half a million in West Virginia.

"A few hundred workers were in town staying three or four nights. Most of them checked out and said they'd rather sleep in their truck, and they did instead of sleeping in the rooms at these motels," Edwards said.

"Things like bedbugs, blood on the walls, dirty mattresses, mold issues ... and there's safety issues -- ventilation issues, structural issues -- and he has to fix them."

An inspection was done several weeks ago, Edwards said, and an ultimatum was presented to Sangani: "Get it fixed or shut down."

A lot of the demands hadn't been met by Tuesday's second inspection, Edwards said.

"Structural engineers hadn't been involved, a mold-abatement company hadn't been involved. We gave them a chance -- multiple chances -- and we're finished giving chances. The rules are easy and clear," he said, about health department regulations and state and city building code requirements.

Sangani, who has owned the motels for 17 years, told the Gazette he is working to correct the problems.

"We are working on it and following the guidelines of what they are telling us," he said. "We work hard, our staff works hard. Whatever needs to be done, we are working with them and will find people to do it."

In March, both motels were shut down for about a week after Hurricane Fire Chief Frank Stover said conditions were ripe for a carbon monoxide leak.

About 15 people were evacuated from the motels at the time, however, no one was transported to a hospital and no carbon monoxide was detected.

Among other violations found in March at the motels, Stover said, was exhaust leaking from a pipe. Rusted pipes in a boiler room had holes that Stover had said he could fit his "pretty good-sized finger" through. Single wall pipes were connected to triple wall pipes, making room for gas to leak out. A makeshift cap fastened to a pipe was a safety violation, he said.

Sangani said at the time that the March inspection was the first time the motels had been inspected since he has owned them.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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