A fire is currently burning out of control at an apartment complex currently under construction at West Dallas and Montrose in Houston. There is no word yet on injuries, but one construction worker was rescued from the third floor and potentially another worker was sighted on the roof. It is clear that the complex will be a total loss.
It is not currently known how the fire began. Several fire crews are working to combat the blaze, and are reporting that the fire is being contained. Strong winds from the northwest are complicating efforts, however, and there are concerns that the fire could spread to the Chevron station just across West Dallas. Other apartment complexes, residential neighborhoods, and office buildings-including the 42-story AIG American General Center-are in the immediate vicinity and could be threatened.
It is fortunate that the complex-which was the subject of recent media attention and civic controversy because it is being constructed next to the historic Magnolia Cemetery-was under construction and not occupied by residents. Home fires account for 87% of American fire fatalities. However, this fire has threatened the lives of both construction workers and fire fighters, and presents a risk to the surrounding neighborhood.
From the Great Fire of Rome of 64 AD, to the Great Fire of London of 1666, to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, fire has plagued cities since the dawn of civilization. While modern fire codes and firefighting techniques available today help prevent fires such as the one currently raging in Montrose from becoming one of the great city-consuming fires of the past, fire is still an extremely destructive force in our lives today.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to 1,375,000 fires in 2012, which resulted in more than $12 billion in direct property losses alone. Worse is the human toll-these fires resulted in 2,855 civilian fatalities and over 16,500 civilian injuries. The total economic cost of fires in the U.S. has been estimated as much as $130 billion to $250 billion per year-in other words, up to two Hurricane Katrinas every year, or 2 percent of the U.S. GDP.
Most fatal fires are preventable, and are caused or exacerbated due to carelessness in activities such as cooking, smoking, or lighting candles, or due to defects in the construction and electrical wiring of buildings-or, in the worst cases, arson. In addition, according to the CDC, more than one third of fire deaths occur in homes without fire alarms.
If you or someone you know has been harmed by a fire caused by the carelessness of another or due to defective buildings or products, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or 800-594-4884.