A HUGE INCREASE IN DANGEROUS FIRES CAUSED DEATHS AND INJURIES IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. FIRE INVESTIGATORS AND LAWYERS FOR THE DECEASEDS’ FAMILIES AND INJURED PERSONS INVESTIGATE CAUSES OF THE FIRES AS WELL AS WHY THE FIRES CAUSED SO MANY DEATHS AND INJURIES. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The Los Angeles Times and other news reporting agencies report that between June 2013 and January 2014 there were 9 fires that killed and injured numerous individuals. In each of these cases the Fire Department investigators and other emergency responders, as well as attorneys for the deceased families and injured persons, are and will analyze the burned premises for evidence that reflects the causes of the blaze, as well as the causes of the death or injuries.
For examples the following questions are and can be asked by fire investigators, as well as lawyers for the families of the deceased and for the injured:
Was the fire caused by arson or an accident? Was the fire caused by an electrical problem in the residence? Was the fire caused by a defective product or appliance in the house or apartment? Could the fire have been avoided and were there Building Code violations, Fire Code violations, or other code violations that if not violated would have prevented or avoided the fire? Did the fire suppression devices, if any, work as expected? Were there working fire suppression devices at the residence? Were there working fire or smoke or carbon monoxide warning devices, i.e. fire detectors or smoke detectors or CO2 detectors? Was the fire the result of faulty wiring or other reason in a illegally converted garage or barn or room, or other construction defect or dangerous condition? Did the emergency equipment, fire extinguishers, security gate releases, work as expected? What other reasons did the fire occur? What other reasons caused the victim to be killed or injured in the fire?
Some of the tragedies of the last 2 months include the following:
• Jan. 28, Tuesday: Damian Young, 36/37 year old, Mid-city, 2305 South Orange Drive. 5:36 am. Mother and elderly aunt suffered possible smoke inhalation. Neighbor described Young as immaculate dresser who worked in sales at Macy’s in Beverly Center for many years.
• Monday, Jan. 20: 61 year-old died garage fire, Winnetka. Homeless, longtime friend of homeowners, allowed to stay in garage. Firefighters called about 4 am. 7900 block of Sunnybrae Avenue.
• January 18, 2014: 100 block of Carlton Avenue, Pasadena. Duplex. Died – Abe McDaniel, 95 yr old WWII veteran.
• Jan. 13: family of four in Sylmar in two-story converted barn-like structure. 13700 block of Eldridge Avenue. Fire fighters called at 4:30 am. 41-year old Uriel Estrada; 40 year-old Maria Estrada; 12-year old Isabel; 7-year old Alejandro. Property owner Leonarda G. Aguilar.
• Jan. 8, 2014: 2100 block of North Hathaway Street in Santa Ana. Two killed in fire at group home for people with special needs. Two deaths – women, age 48 and 52.
• Dec. 12, 2013: North Bonnie Brae Street, near Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. Apartment fire. Killed 2, injured 4. Diego Alberto – 23 yr. old; Rosa Fonseca – 90 yr. old. Arson dogs detected accelerant near door, indicating fire might have been started intentionally.
• August 8, 2013: 16300 block of Plummer Street, North Hills. Donald Worthen, 81-yr old man. Single-family home.
• Sept. 8, 2013: 4319 E. Compton Blvd., Compton, mechanic shop. Upstairs had been converted into an illegal loft and living space. Teresa Lopez – 42 yr old; Margarita – 12 yr old.
• June 16, 2013: 8000 block of S. San Pedro Street. Makeshift home in auto repair shop.
The shear number of the types of fires, deaths and injuries as reflected above makes it clear that more can be done to prevent fires, and separately more can be done to prevent deaths and injuries when a fire does occur. Check your smoke detectors. Check the fire extinguishers. Know where the fire alarms are in the building. Make sure the landlord has provided working fire and smoke detectors and detection and suppression for the residence. Make sure the licensed contractors are utilized and permits obtained to better assure safety of residents. Do not illegally convert non-living spaces to living spaces.
SOLOMON, SALTSMAN & JAMIESON is currently investigating a similar fire caused death, its causes and contributing factors.