Lawsuit accuses owners of ignoring risks prior to deadly blaze

Back in 2012, two business owners in Philadelphia were known for owning a number of properties, but neglecting to care for them. In the spring of 2012, one of these abandoned buildings caught fire. Two firefighters were killed while battling the blaze. The widow of one of these firefighters has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the building’s owners.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, the owners knew drug dealers, looters, prostitutes, vagrants and others were illegally occupying the old Thomas Buck hosiery building. However, the owners did nothing to move these people out. Rather, the lawsuit claims, the owners chose to ignore the issues and dangers.

Prior to the fire, according to the lawsuit, nearby residents and members of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation contacted the owners on numerous occasions about the issues. However, nothing was done.

One of the owners even toured the building prior to the fire, the lawsuit claims, and saw firsthand the dangerous conditions, including combustible materials being left out and evidence of squatters.

The lawsuit goes on to claim looters had gone in numerous times to strip the building of copper and other materials, which further created a fire risk for a building without a sprinkler system in place.

At the time of the fire, the city had already cited the owners three times for not securing the property and the sheriff’s sale proceedings had already begun. These proceedings began in February 2012. The fire happened in April 2012.

The widow of the firefighter would now like to see the owners and their companies held responsible for not maintaining the property and ignoring those dangerous conditions that led to the fire.

Source: Philly.com, “Kensington factory fire widow: Firefighters died because owners ignored squatters, other risks,” Oct. 2, 2013



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