Fire chief says Dallas condos in fatal fire were poorly built

Condo fire

Credit: WFAA

A Dallas firefighter was killed battling the fire at a condominium complex in North Dallas on May 20, 2013.



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Posted on May 21, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 21 at 5:05 PM

Condo fire

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DALLAS — We're still waiting to learn what caused the six-alarm fire at a Northeast Dallas condominium that killed a firefighter on Monday.

The do know the fire at the Hearthwood North complex at 12363 Abrams Road moved quickly and burned intensely.

Stanley Wilson was trapped in the rubble and died as he battled the flames. Dallas Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Michael Price said part of the problem was that the three-story building was made out of lightweight "engineered building products" instead of wood.

"Fire moves between the floors... it goes from floor through the walls and goes through the attic spaces," Price said. "It fills the building with fire, and the occupants don't even know it."

The building lost integrity within minutes, causing the roof to collapse.

Dallas Fire-Rescue said the absence of strong firewalls let the flames spread quickly.

"There are void spaces between the structure elements themselves. The fire had a tendency to move through those areas," Chief Price said.

This isn't the first fire at Hearthwood North. There have been several over the years, including one about three years ago that caused an adjacent building to burn to the ground. They were bulldozed and never rebuilt.

Mark Allen lost everything in Monday's fire. He said there was no sprinkler system.

"So now these units, these older complexes are dangerous as heck when a fire occurs," he said.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates there were nearly 100,000 multi-family structure fires in the U.S. which resulted in 415 civilian deaths causing more than $1 billion in damages.

The NFPA says residents should demand better fire protection and put pressure on local officials to require firewalls and sprinklers in order to save lives.