Family sues after grandma dies when wrong home set on fire

Family: Missing fire extinguisher cost a life

DALLAS - The family of a Dallas grandmother killed after a fire at the Asante Apartments is now suing the owners of the complex.

Last May, 58-year-old Debra Ann Williams died in the intensive care burn unit of Parkland Memorial Hospital. Investigators said her apartment was set on fire in connection with a gang-related retaliation incident.

Police believe those who set the fire got the wrong home by accident. No one has been charged with the crime yet.

Meanwhile, Williams’ children are now involved in a wrongful death lawsuit against the owners and managers of the complex, Amaz Property Acquisitions, and Amaz Property Management.

In 2015, court records show that the City of Dallas found numerous fire and city code violations on the property.

One violation includes not providing one fire extinguisher for every 3,000 square feet throughout the property.

The complex agreed with the city to make improvements, but court documents filed by the city show that the property was re-inspected following the death of Williams.

Those documents indicate that the complex was in contempt of a court, and had not made improvements in relation to many of those code violations found in 2015.

The city even said that the complex failed yet again to provide fire extinguishers around the complex. 

Kevin Koudelka, the attorney representing Williams’ family, said that’s a big key to the case.

“None of the things that were supposed to be fixed under the injunction were repaired,” he said. “The big thing for us has to be the fire extinguishers. None of them were outside for people to use.”

Latricia Banks, Williams’ daughter, agrees.

“Having fire extinguishers there, neighbors could have helped put out the fire, and none of that was available,” she said.

An attorney representing the owners and managers of the complex told WFAA that a criminal was responsible for the death of Williams—not the complex.

He also said that a fire extinguisher is provided inside each apartment, but didn’t mention any locations outside apartments.

Koudelka also claims in his lawsuit that the complex didn’t have regular inspections, testing, or maintenance of fire protection systems.

He also uses the other code violations, to paint an issue about overarching safety issues at the complex.

The trial is set for November of 2018.

© 2018 WFAA-TV


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