Owner of abandoned pool given deadline; fire department to ramp up inspections

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After two young brothers nearly drowned on Memorial Day, a St. Paul apartment complex has been given five days to fix its dangerous swimming pool.

WCCO reports the owner of Princetown Place Apartments, on Arundel Street in St. Paul's north end, was ordered by the City of St. Paul to have its abandoned pool fixed in time for an inspection on June 3, or face potential criminal action.

Brothers Sher Kpor, 7, and Ma Kpaw, 10, were pulled unconscious from the trash-filled pool on Memorial Day. They were found in the deep end in 6 feet of water, after Ma Kpaw went to rescue his younger brother who had fallen in trying to retrieve a flip flop.

According to WCCO, the owner of the apartment building has said he plans to fill the pool "with dirt and plant grass" and address the fence around it – work which he estimates will cost around $10,000.

The Star Tribune reports that St. Paul officials want the fence and gate around the abandoned pool to be repaired, debris from the pool removed, and drains cleared to prevent the buildup of standing water by June 3.

The case has also highlighted an apparent gap in who is responsible for regulating unused swimming pools, with the City saying it was taking action against the abandoned pool even though it believes that state inspectors should be responsible.

But the state took over responsibility for St. Paul's apartment pools in 2013, after the Princetown pool had been abandoned. State officials told the newspaper they were looking at how to close this gap in oversight.

The Pioneer Press reports, in the wake of the accident, the St. Paul Fire Department will begin actively searching for abandoned pools that need to be drained, rather than waiting for complaints from residents.

But the department still wants notices sent to them, and issued an appeal for anyone with an abandoned pool that still contains more than a foot of groundwater to get in touch with them. Officers will pump the water out free of charge.

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