The investigation by the Ashland Police and Fire Departments started back in August of 2018 when the agencies were first notified of the issue.
According to the city, the property owner said he would convert it back, but after months of investigating, they said that didn’t happen.
Part of that plea agreement was that Ashland Code Enforcement would inspect the home over a 10-month period, but when the city would post the inspection notice 24 hours in advance to comply with the Oregon Landlord Tenant Laws, the fire department said the owners, Derek Hinger and Rob Hisamoto, would move items out.
Those items included doors, mattresses and other belongings of those staying there, giving the appearance that they were complying with the court order.
The Ashland Fire Marshal said the illegal conversion placed the occupants into serious life safety hazards.
“They had converted a space of 5 rooms with no windows,” said Ashland Fire and Rescue Division Chief Ralph Sartain, “so if there had been a fire in the basement, which is where this was converted, the people would have been trapped without any way out of the structure.”
Monday afternoon employees of Ashland Fire and Rescue, police, building department and coding enforcement showed up with an administrative search warrant.
The people living there were ordered out of the structure and services to the home were shut off.
The Ashland Fire Marshal told NBC5 News the owners were running it as a motel.
NBC5 News spoke with one neighbor who said they didn’t know what was happening Tuesday but that she saw multiple people walk out of the home with sleeping bags down the street.
This investigation is still ongoing, stay with NBC5 News for updates.
Nicole Costantino is a reporter and weather forecaster for NBC5 News. She comes to us from Phoenix, Arizona where she graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She also received a minor in Meteorology.
Before coming to NBC5 News Nicole was an anchor, weather forecaster and reporter at KAET in Phoenix, AZ. In college, she interned for CBS Evening News in New York City and the NBC4 Investigative Team in Los Angeles.
In her free time, you can find Nicole cheering on her Sun Devils and exploring the Pacific Northwest. Feel free to send story ideas and chocolate chip cookie recipes to her on Facebook (@NicoleCostantino) or Twitter (@NicCostantino).