Oakland Apartment Fire Causes 3 Deaths: Where were the Smoke Alarms?

apt fire.jpg2010 ended with the tragedy of 3 people dying in an apartment fire. The reports indicate that one of the tenants had her electricity shut off by PG & E. In order to help her out, one of the other residents allowed her to string an extension cord to her unit and draw power off of that. Unfortunately, this overloaded the circuit and caused a fire to break out.

The building was bank owned having been taken it over in a foreclosure. There were no operating smoke alarms in the units. Having properly installed and working smoke detectors could have save three innocent lives.

California law is very clear. The owner of an apartment building must keep its units in a habitable condition. It is considered “uninhabitable” if the premises fail to meet building codes, including working smoke detectors in units and common stairwells (Health & Safety Code section 13113.7).

When the owner of an apartment unit breaks the law by failing to have properly installed smoke alarms, it is responsible for personal injuries and wrongful deaths caused by the failure to comply with the law. As a personal injury lawyer in Oakland and the surrounding cities, we are seeing more and more properties being taken over by financial interests in foreclosures. These large institutions must be held to the same standards as individual apartment owners and keep their buildings safe for their tenants.

Resources:

SFGate.com, 7-year-old survivor of Oakland fire in legal limbo, January 1, 2011
California Department of Consumer Affairs, Landlord/Tenant Handbook

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