Articles Posted in FIre and Explosions

A year after 22-year-old Binland Lee died in an Alston, MA apartment fire, her family is suing the landlord for her Boston wrongful death. Binland, a Boston University student, got trapped in her attic bedroom.

According to her loved ones, the landlord, Anna Belokurova, had rented Lee a bedroom in illegal apartment that had a faulty alarm system and not enough exits. Also named as Alton, MA wrongful death defendants are property owner Belokurova, Gateway Real Estate Group, two real estate brokers, and a real estate agent.

A Boston Globe Spotlight investigation reconstructed that tragic incident in April 2013. It reported ongoing problems of overcrowding at the building.

Elaine Yeskie has settled her Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit against Anthony Baye, the man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the fatal fire that claimed the lives of her husband Paul Yeskie Sr. and son Paul Yeskie Jr. The two men died in 2012 in a blaze set by Baye at their home on a night when he started over a dozen fires.

Yeskie sought damages from Baye for the loss of her husband and son, as well as for the severe emotional trauma she experienced from witnessing their deaths. Her son Paul Jr. had autism.

The widow claims that the two men experienced conscious pain and suffering as they were fatally burned while trying to escape there home. Yeskie and another woman managed to flee the blaze.

On a single Saturday, two house fires broke out in Springfield, both due to electrical and heating appliances left unattended. On the morning of August 9th at 653 State St, a fire started in a bedroom of an apartment complex, when an electric iron was heated and left unattended on a bed, blazing the bed sheets and mattress before spreading into the rest of the room. Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant said that when they arrived, “the room was gutted by flames.” The family whose apartment caught on fire and a neighboring family were evacuated from the complex.

On Saturday also but in the afternoon another fire was reported at the apartment complex on 119 Ashley St. The residents left a curling iron on, which then burned through the counter and set fire to the bathroom. Damages are estimated at $10,000 and $15,000. No injuries were reported, though the two occupants were displaced to a different apartment complex.

The two similar incidents remind us all to be wary of potential fire hazards at our homes. Unfortunately, house fires are very common in the United States. Between 2007 and 2011, the National Fire Protection Agency reported 366,600 house fires. The resulting financial and personal consequences cannot be ignored. During this time frame, on average, seven people died in U.S. home fires every day; indeed, most fire-related deaths happen at home.
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It was a chaotic scene Thursday morning as residents of a Lowell apartment building rushed outside their smoke-filled homes in the pre-dawn hours. The sun had not yet risen at 4:00 am but the sky was illuminated with the bright orange flames billowing out of the roof of the building on 73-81 Branch Street. Some residents ran down to the fire station only 100 yards away and frantically begged for help while a police officer on his regular patrol spotted the blaze and also called it in.

The fire spread quickly through the old, wooden building originally built in 1890. Records indicate the building housed 48 individuals, many of whom were forced to use extreme measures to get themselves and their children out of the fully-engulfed 3-story structure. WBZ-Radio correspondent Carl Stevens recalled seeing residents “jumping out of windows to escape the fire in Lowell.” In addition, many witnesses reported seeing a mother desperately dangling her baby out of an upper floor window for someone to catch on the ground. The baby was safety caught by a bystander carefully positioned below, but others were not as lucky.
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The charred shell of a building is all that remains at 298 Beacon Street in Back Bay. The prestigious address on the tree lined street was once a grand old brownstone nestled in between rows of historic homes and old Boston. The nine alarm blaze quickly tore through the building, fueled by the 50-mile-per-hour winds coming off the nearby Charles River. The eight-unit building was a total loss, but the most tragic consequence of the fire was the deaths of two Boston firefighters who were trapped in the basement. Though no criminal activity was suspected, an investigation was launched, as usual, into the cause of the deadly fire.

The investigation by officials revealed the probable cause to be sparks from a nearby welding site. It is believed that workers were welding part of a safety rail at neighboring 296 Beacon Street when the strong winds carried the sparks into the old building. After learning of the findings, the owner of the destroyed building, listed as the estate of Michael J. Callahan, is suing the owner of 296 Beacon Street, (Oliver Realty LP) the welding company, (D & J Iron Works) and the owner of the welding company (Guiseppe Falcone). The suit was filed by the executer of the estate, Herbert Lerman.
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Nest Labs, the home electronics company Google recently acquired for $3.2 billion has stopped selling its smoke and carbon monoxide detectors amid grave concerns regarding its reliability in the event of an emergency. According to the New York Times, the smoke detector, known as “Nest Protect” can be inadvertently disabled when a person waves his or hands in front of the alarm. Perhaps inspired by the classic waving of a dish towel around the detector after cooking something especially smoky, the feature, called “Nest Wave,” was clearly not well-thought-out by the designers. Officials are worried that someone could potentially deactivate the alarm, rendering it useless in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide event.

It is easily to imagine how a child could unknowingly deactivate the alarm if it got close enough, putting the entire family at risk. A smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm is one of the only electronics in the home that goes largely unnoticed until there is an actual emergency. They are the silent lifelines that only announce their presence when a threat is detected. If the alarm was disabled, it is possible no one in the home would even notice until it was much too late.

Nest Chief Executive Tony Fadell posted an open letter to customers on the company’s website explaining that Nest is making every effort to solve the problem. Fadell stated that the company has stopped selling the product until the feature in question has been remedied. He also mentioned that Nest would immediately begin deactivating the “Nest Wave” feature on devices already installed in homes. Fortunately, this is a process that can be done remotely to prevent any incidents with current customers.
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While the physical and emotional burden remains heavy, a sizeable financial weight has been lifted off the shoulders of Faye Boroughs and her son as a Florida jury awarded the family $14.8 million after an explosion in their home. Ms. Boroughs sustained severe burns on 33% of her body and remains permanently disfigured; a lifelong reminder of the explosion that claimed life of her partner. Michael Blanchard was burned on 98% of his body and suffered for three long weeks before succumbing to his injuries. The couple’s young son was in another part of the home at the time, but sustained psychological injuries.

According to the National Trial Lawyers, “evidence showed that the defendant companies violated gas safety codes and failed to adequately train their technicians.” The plaintiff’s attorneys were able to establish that the explosion was directly caused by negligent actions by Panhandle Plumbing and Andrews Cooling & Heating. Panhandle Plumbing did not seek the appropriate permits to install a gas line that was not properly labeled and lacked a safety shut-off valve-two very basic requirements. Andrews Cooling & Heating then installed a gas dryer with that faulty pipe, and ignored both the manufacturer’s instructions and minimum safety code provisions.
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WHDH News Channel Seven reported on a residential fire that happened last Thursday evening, November 14th. The fire started at a Watertown house on Galen Street. Firefighters were working well into the night to extinguish the hot spots. According to the fire chief, the flames apparently started on the ground floor and then moved upstairs. At least two people were displaced due to the fire, and WHDH reports that everybody got out alive. There is no word on the cause of the fire or the extent of property damage and injuries involved. This fire is still under investigation.

According to the Watertown Patch, there were multiple units inferring this was a rental property. In cases where a renter gets injured at home, the owner may be held liable for personal injury expenses. These include but are not limited to medical care, compensation for damages and lost wages if they neglected to keep the property well maintained. If another person caused the fire he or she could be held responsible for any damages.
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The mayor of Springfield has confirmed that the city has settled with Columbia Gas following a natural gas explosion that destroyed a gentlemen’s club and other buildings in the city’s downtown entertainment district, last November.

criminal-defense.jpgColumbia Gas utility workers had been surveying gas lines on November 23, 2012, after responding to reports of a strong gas odor near Score’s strip club, located at 453 Worthington Street. A worker using a probe to search for the source of the odor accidentally ruptured a gas line, triggering a massive explosion that leveled the strip club, shattered building windows, and seriously damaged three dozen nearby buildings, including 100 residential units. While there were no fatalities, more than 20 people suffered injuries, and dozens of residents were displaced as a result of the blast.

The $650,000 settlement represents compensation for the property damage, call back costs for injured personnel, and other related expenses. The settlement does not include repayments for open claims for wages and medical bills; those cases are being handled on a case-by-case basis. Stephen Bryant, president of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, said that the utility company had settled the vast majority of claims, paying out millions to explosion victims.

Gas explosions occur for a number of reasons-from faulty equipment, gas leaks, or in this case a sudden break in the gas line. Explosions take place in a variety of settings, but most commonly occur on job sites, as a result of improper storage of gasses, worker negligence, or unsafe working environments.

While thankfully there were no fatal injuries during this explosion that is not always the case.
Often explosions of this magnitude result in severe and debilitating injuries, and even death. People who witness an explosion may be severely injured by flying debris, high impact, heat and smoke, or chemical inhalation. Often victims of explosions must undergo costly medical care to treat their injuries; which may lead to extensive medical bills as well as pain and suffering. Property owners, manufacturers, employers, or other individuals who caused the explosion may be held liable for any damages or injuries to other individuals, and victims may eligible for compensation. In this instance the gas utility company, Columbia Gas, is ultimately responsible for any injuries and damages to property that resulted from the explosion.
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More than 2 million dehumidifiers have been recalled throughout the United States and Canada after reports have surfaced of fires and property damage caused by certain models produced by Gree Electric Appliances.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 12 brands of humidifiers, all manufactured by Gree Electric Appliances of China, were voluntarily recalled because of their potential to overheat, smoke, and/or catch fire. Thus far, the CPSC has estimated there has been about $2M in property damage caused by these dehumidifiers.

The models involved in the recall include 20-, 25-, 30-, 40-, 50-, 65-, and 70-pint dehumidifiers with the brand names Danby, De’Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, Soleus Air, and SuperClima. An estimated total of 2.2 million dehumidifiers were sold to consumers in the United States, and approximately 52,500 were sold in Canada. Consumers who own any of these models have been advised by Gree and the CPSC to immediately turn off and unplug the appliance and contact Gree for a full refund.

Fire%20Damage1LARGE.jpgProduct manufacturers, designers, distributors, wholesalers, and sellers are liable for making sure that their consumer products are not only manufactured correctly, but are safe for consumption or use. The scope of those injured or killed by consumer products is overwhelming; and the CPSC estimates that tens of thousands of people fall victim to various types of faulty consumer products each year-from children’s toys to automobiles to household appliances. When merchants fail to fulfill this obligation, and someone is seriously injured or is killed, the injured victims and their family members are entitled to file a claim against responsible parties.

There are three kinds of product defects covered under products liability law including flawed product design, manufacturing process error, and lastly, marketing defects. A design defect is a defect that is inherent to the product itself, which makes the product unsafe for its intended use. Though the product may have been produced and marketed the way it was intended, it may have been designed improperly. In most instances with these types of cases, the manufacturer could have potentially used a safer design to avoid any foreseeable risks associated with the product. In the instance with Gree Electric, Gree ultimately bares the responsibility for manufacturing and selling a flawed product. Their product is a fire hazard and is prone to cause serious property damage, personal injury, or death.
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