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Second MA Apartment Fire in Less than One Month Has People Questioning Safety of Wood Construction

A massive fire destroyed a 264-unit luxury apartment complex in Waltham Massachusetts  last weekend. The 10-alarm blaze came only weeks after a similar fire destroyed a Dorchester apartment complex that was also under construction. The level of destruction – and the speed with which the fire spread through these buildings – has people questioning the safety of wood construction. Both buildings had wood frames, and both buildings were destroyed within a few hours.

When Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy was asked by a reporter whether she thought wood-frame construction should be permitted in MA, she said, “I really don’t believe so when it’s that size.” McCarthy went on to say that, “Within three hours, the whole building {in Waltham} was down.” She says she never supported having such a large complex in such a densely-populated area in the first place. Although wood construction is legal, McCarthy doesn’t think it’s safe. “It’s the cheap way out. And quite frankly, I thank god nobody got killed. They’ll say ‘oh, we can do this.’ Yeah you can, it’s whether you should be doing it,” she said.

In response to the apartment fires, Waltham city councilor Robert Logan is asking the state to take a closer look at the hazards of wood construction in larger building projects. “I’m not an expert in building, but I do know this. I haven’t seen any steel frame and concrete buildings go up in flames like a box of matches,” he said. But according to MA fire marshal Peter Ostroskey, wood-frame construction is perfectly safe once the building is completed; it’s during the building process – before the complex is fitted with sprinkler systems and smoke alarms – that it’s vulnerable to fire hazards. “We believe, ultimately, it is a safe type of construction to house people once it’s completed. It’s through that construction process these kinds of accidents can happen,” said Ostroskey. Further, wood-frame construction is legal in every state.

The Dorchester blaze destroyed a wood-frame complex near the Ashmont MBTA station on June 28. The cause of the Waltham fire remains under investigation. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if another’s negligence has caused you harm.

Preventing House Fires

Although the cases above involve large apartment complexes still under construction, they bring to mind the threat of house fires; there were nearly 500,000 structure fires in 2014, in the U.S. alone. In addition to property damage, house fires can result in serious injuries and death. Smoke inhalation and burns can be deadly. Of the 500,000 fires, about 50,000 were a result of electrical problems. In some cases, the source of the fire can be linked to a negligent electrician or general contractor, or a faulty product. By following the tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of being injured or killed in a house fire.

  • Do not use appliances with worn cords.
  • Use low-watt light bulbs in fixtures and lamps.
  • Do not overload extension cords (extension cords should be temporary solutions).
  • Hire an insured, bonded, and licensed electrician to check your wiring and make sure it is up to date.
  • Never put space heaters close to curtains, furniture, or other flammable items.
  • Do not run cords under rugs.

When you hire a contractor or electrician, it is crucial that you do your homework first; make sure that he or she is insured, bonded, and licensed in MA. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if a negligent contractor or electrician, or a faulty product, resulted in a house fire.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Personal Injury Law Firm Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. Following an injury or property damage, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, repair expenses, and other associated costs. It is our goal to get you the compensation you deserve so that you can get on with your life. If you’ve been harmed, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.