PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Southwest Portland apartment building that was destroyed in a fire – leaving around 100 residents displaced – will soon come down, according to the City of Portland.

This comes as some residents of the May Apartments say their apartments had been looted in the meantime. They haven’t been allowed on site to retrieve their belongings.

Just three months after he moved into the building off Southwest 14th Street and Taylor Avenue, Russell Ehrett’s fourth floor unit was one of those completely destroyed in the fire on May 16. In the weeks since, he said it’s been an uphill battle with the building owners and SkyNat Property Management.

“As I understand, everything is lost from my particular unit,” Ehrett said. “The only form of communication from them in the 3+ weeks was an email with no subject line, saying ‘You can list suspected arson in the cause for your renter’s insurance.’”

He said it came as a shock this week when he, along with other residents, met with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and learned of suspected looting. Other residents who left their credit cards behind in a rush said the cards suddenly have new charges.

“The DA’s office kind of confirmed that to say, ‘We know that,’ and one of the other residents spoke up, saying there are windows broken in the building that were not broken during the fire,” Ehrett said.

The City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services — which took over the building from Portland Fire — says they just learned of the looting allegations and verified that at least two security guards have been on site.

“We’ve told the building owner of the May Apartments building that they’re required to keep security on site 24/7 to make sure that unauthorized persons don’t go onto the site,” said Ken Ray with the Bureau of Development Services.

Ray says the property owner has decided to demolish the building and is currently seeking bids for a company to do the demolition. Though a date hasn’t been set, he said that once it happens, the contractor will go in to recover any resident items that are salvageable. 

“Once the contractor is selected, a permit will be filed with our office. The contractor will be required to remove the occupants’ belongings safely and securely before the demolition begins,” Ray said. “Only the contractors will have access to the building. The residents themselves will not be able to go in, nor will members of the public. Access to the building is limited because of safety concerns.”

The city says the neighboring building, the Maxwell Hall Apartments, are also not allowing residents indoors until smoke and water damage repairs are made and the building is deemed safe. 

As for Ehrett, he said he’ll continue to follow the proceedings of the arson suspect, Garrett Repp, who has been accused of setting the building fire. But his own next steps are still up in the air.

“Housing is not easy for anybody in the best of circumstances,” he said. 

KOIN 6 reached out to the Portland Police Bureau and the DA’s office about the looting concerns, but has yet to receive a response. The city was not able to give a timeline as to when the building will come down because that decision is up to the owner.

However, the city says that once a permit is granted, they have six months to have it demolished.

Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.