Roof collapses at a duplex fire on Avenue D in Saskatoon on Jan. 12, 2012. Sara Norman/News Talk Radio
Shawn James says he was struggling with a drug addiction when he moved into a room rented by Jack Grover.
"I didn't really know it was his place until two weeks after I moved in there, but I wouldn't have moved in the first place if I would have known that," he said in an interview with News Talk Radio on Tuesday.
Right now, James is living with his brother-in-law in Saskatoon because the Avenue D North complex he was living in was destroyed by a fatal fire last January.
Daniel Shepherdson's executor and five tenants are suing Grover for damages of more than $1.5 million. James said he just learned of the lawsuit this week and wants to join.
"I was in there ... I was the one who had to go around and bang on everybody’s door and get everyone else out of that house," he said.
In a court document, the claimants allege Grover removed batteries from smoke detectors and did not get rid of garbage and debris from the building efficiently.
They also say he did not provide basement tenants with a kitchen - instead giving them hot plates.
The tenants allege they brought forward concerns about the building before the fire happened.
James described the complex as a converted nursing home. He said bathrooms were shared and the five rooms downstairs did not have a kitchen.
He said his room, which cost $450 per month, came with a mini-fridge and a hot plate.
"It was a pretty grubby little place, like a lot of drunks and addicts... I had a problem with the drugs myself at the time I was living there," he said.
Grover has more than 100 tickets or convictions with fire and building inspectors.
He spent a year in jail after he was convicted of trying to alter smoke detector inspection records after a rental property he owned on Avenue E north caught fire, killing three-year-old Isabelle Bowron and her nine-month-old sister Jordynn.
Grover did not respond to News Talk Radio's request for an interview.
- With files from News Talk Radio’s Trelle Burdeniuk