ADICA begins daily checks for trespassers at old Albany Theatre

ADICA begins daily checks for trespassers at old Albany Theatre
ADICA responds after the old Albany Theatre goes up in flames. (Source: WALB)
Jacquelyn Teemer from a previous interview (Source: WALB)
Jacquelyn Teemer from a previous interview (Source: WALB)
No trespassing signs are visible. (Source: WALB)
No trespassing signs are visible. (Source: WALB)
Donald Gray addressing ADICA board at Friday's meeting. (Source: WALB)
Donald Gray addressing ADICA board at Friday's meeting. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - For the first time since January's deadly Albany Theatre fire, the city board that owns the building met publicly to discuss what happened and how the building is being secured.

Last month, a man died in a fire inside the closed down Theatre.

The old Albany Theatre went up in flames January 24 after a lit cigarette was thrown on the roof, and caught trash on fire.

Michael Lewis, 41, died from smoke and soot inhalation. Three others were rescued.

Lewis and the three other people that were rescued from the building are believed to have been living in the theater illegally.

Now, the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority has requested that the property is checked frequently.

"That is an approximate, in the morning, afternoon and evening, city employees make a check. I also personally check myself," said Albany Facilities Director Donald Gray.

We have learned that people have been breaking into the building, even after the fatal fire.

Gray said, with the help of Albany Police, that activity has stopped.

Gray and board member Phil Cannon noted that trespassing inside vacant buildings is a common problem in Atlanta and other cities.

There are visible "no trespassing" signs at the theater as well as fencing and other security measures.

City code enforcement leaders said it is the property owner's responsibility to check for vagrants, but WALB uncovered that the city attorney's office had no documents showing the dates ADICA checked on the theatre prior to the fire.

Interim Downtown Manager and ADICA Executive Director Jacquelyn Teemer said the buildings are checked periodically, but couldn't say the last time the theater was checked prior to the fire.

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