Landlords have a lawful duty to keep their tenants as safe as they can, to the best of their abilities, or else it may be a case of premises liability. One precaution that all landlords must take is the installation and maintenance of functional smoke detectors and fire alarms. When smoke detectors are not functional and disaster strikes, landlords can be held culpable for their negligence. This very scenario has played itself out in the Pittsburgh area and the results are a sad, harsh truth.
Detectives who are currently investigating a McKeesport area fire that killed six people and critically injured another are now looking into whether or not a cigarette being smoked on a couch ignited the fire. Right now, the cause fire is still being classified as "undetermined." District Attorney Stephen Zappala told reporters that it definitely isn't arson and that it wasn't any type of electrical fire or short circuit that may have caused it.
The fire occurred in McKeesport along Express Alley on 18 October of this year. The victims include a 55-year-old man, and a 27-year-old woman and her four children, one boy and three girls, ages seven, six, three, and two, respectively. Another man, the 55-year-old man's brother, was seriously burned all over his body and is still recovering at a burn treatment facility in town.
District Attorney Zappala has announced that the victims' landlord "did not comply with the landlord-tenant ordinances in...McKeesport." The landlord told investigators that he did install smoke detectors in the house, but detectives contend that they have not found any evidence of the detectors anywhere in the rubble. If they continue to find no evidence of the detectors, the landlord will likely be cited. No other charges in connection with the fire are likely to be filed.
D.A. Zappala did say that this instance and other like it have charged plans to follow more closely landlords who don't follow the law, and prosecute them. Zappala says that with the help of Duquesne University School of Law students who will help track the exchange of properties and landlord infractions, accidents such as this one will hopefully be eliminated.
If you have been injured at your apartment or rented home and you believe that your injury may have been caused by the negligence of your landlord, call the Pittsburgh personal injury and premises liability attorneys at Goodrich & Geist at 800-806-2456 or 412-766-1455 for a free consultation today.
Source: Post-Gazette.com, "DA: Landlord likely to be cited for lack of smoke detectors in McKeesport fire that killed six" 5 November 2014