Two recent fires at a Johnson City mobile home park have prompted the city building codes department, and the park’s owner, to take action.
Big Valley Mobile Home Park, located just off the Bristol Highway, is one of the city’s oldest such parks, having been around since at least the 1950s.
In recent years, many of the more than 80 mobile homes located there have fallen into disrepair indicative of their age as some have been around since the late 1960s. In addition, most of those are uninhabited.
“For the last few months, we’ve been targeting some of those mobile homes,” Chief Building Official/Fire Marshal Steve Shell said. “We feel like that area needs some attention, and since we’ve started having some fires out there we decided to step things up a little more.”
There are also concerns about flooding in the area making dilapidated mobile homes more of a potential danger.
Shell said the park’s owner, Lloyd Fleenor, has come back into possession of the park after another owner ran it for several years, and has been cooperating with the city to remove some of the more dilapidated mobile homes.
Branson Tipton, in management/maintenance for the park, said eight mobile homes are in the process of being removed.
“They’re the ones in the worst condition and it would really cost more to fix them than what they are worth,” Tipton said.
As for the recent fires, Tipton believes they were likely started by children who are park residents.
“I’ve seen them around here, trying to smoke and do it somewhere their parents can’t see them,” Tipton said. “Kids will be kids. That’s all I can think of.”
Tipton said park management was already in the process of trying to improve the park’s appearance, and the standing of its residents, before the fires.
“We’ve made it so that any trailer (model) older than the year 2000 can’t move in,” Tipton said. “We’ve also started to conduct background checks and credit checks for our residents.”
As long as the park management is cooperating and taking steps to alleviate problems, Shell said it’s less likely the matter will have to come before the city Board of Dwelling Standards.
“The board could find them unfit for human habitation and order them to be removed,” Shell said. “Of course, the owner can have any of them taken out of there any time he wants.”