Crews Near Demolition Of Housing Complex Where Gas Killed 2

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Heavy equipment may soon begin tearing down an 80-year-old South Carolina public housing complex where two men died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a poorly maintained heater.

Scientists are conducting environmental tests on the land around Allen Benedict Court in Columbia. If those tests are OK, crews could begin tearing down buildings this month, the Columbia Housing Authority said.

The 400 residents of the housing project were never allowed back into their homes after the bodies of two men were discovered in their units and the neighborhood evacuated in January 2019.

Calvin Witherspoon Jr., 62, and Derrick Roper, 31, were found dead in separate units in the same building. Firefighters immediately checked all 244 homes in the complex and found unusually high gas level s in at least 65 units coming out of water heaters, stoves and other appliances.

After the inspections and testing, Columbia officials determined it would be better to just tear the complex down.

The Columbia Housing Authority was fined just under $11,000 last year after pleading guilty to 24 safety violations including broken smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers as well as failing to do routine maintenance.