City code questioned after fire at overcrowded trailer

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jun 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-11 19:03:25-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- A mobile home caught fire Sunday morning due to an overused electrical outlet, displacing 16 people including 11 children.

Nine lived in the trailer that originally caught fire, and the neighboring trailer was home to seven.            

Fire officials say nobody was injured since the trailer where the fire started was empty, and the occupants of the neighboring trailer were woken up and led to safety. 

The devastating fire in the crowded trailer brings into question how many people are allowed to live under one roof in Richmond.

CBS 6 spoke with City Code Enforcement about what city code says regarding the number people living in one home.

Officials said a residence with one occupant must have at least 70 square feet of available bedroom space.  A residence with two occupants must have at least 100 square feet.  For each occupant after that, an additional 50 square feet of space must be available.

However, “occupant” refers to someone living in residence plus any relatives that live there with them.  So in this case, it appears the family of 9 living in the trailer, who are all related, are not in violation.

The families displaced told CBS 6, they have to clean up the property by the end of the day.  Then, they turn towards searching for a new place to live.