Bacteria in water after fire leaves many seniors homeless

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HOQUIAM, Wash. - Four days after a fire, there's bacteria in the water at the Hoquiam apartment building.

The Emerson Manor Apartment Building was damaged in Thursday's fire.

Though the fire was small, it activated the sprinkler system, which caused extensive water damage.

On Monday, crews took samples from the runoff water and found high levels of bacteria, resulting in the evacuation of all tenants.

Most of the people who live there are low income senior citizens.  Many have disabilities.

Residents were given a few hours to grab what they could and then were transferred to the Immanuel Baptist Church in Hoquiam for the evening.

More than 60 people lived in the building.

Authorities said the focus in the coming days is to find better, longer-term living arrangements for all of the tenants.

Many tenants have also been separated from their pets which are being distributed to local area animal shelters and adoption homes until better living facilities can be arranged and they can be reunited with their owners. 

The Department of Social and Health Services, the Red Cross, Grays Harbor Community Hospital, Grays Harbor County Public Health and numerous local and regional agencies have been helping the residents, but authorities said most of the residents have nowhere to stay.