Two very different home fires caught the attention of our Panama City injury lawyer this week. The cases serve as a reminder while that Panama City home fires share the element of tragedy, each one is unique and needs to be carefully investigated to determine fault and, ultimately, liability.
The News Herald offered coverage of one fire in a Lake Town Wharf condominium. The Panama City Beach Police Department is investigating the Sunday night blaze that caused the condo's sprinkler system to activate and caused thousands of dollars in damages. A methamphetamine lab appears to have sparked the fire.
Police and fire officials have referred to the lab as a "shake and bake" operation, in which the meth maker shakes a small plastic container holding the drug's ingredients. The mixture is highly volatile, flammable, and sometimes spontaneously ignites during the process. It appears that the suspects fled the condo complex when the fire started, leaving complex security to find the flooded unit about an hour after the fire started and the sprinkler system activated.
A second fire, also reported by the News Herald, occurred on Monday February 20 on Hinson Avenue in Panama City Beach. Firefighters from Bay County responded to the late morning fire and were able to extinguish the blaze in fifteen minutes. However, even that short time was enough to claim the life of one family pet and damage thirty percent of the 1,000-square-foot home. The state fire marshal's office is continuing to investigate, but the preliminary reports suggest an overturned lamp sparked the fire in the home's utility room.
As is demonstrated by the two recent incidents, fires can have a myriad of causes. Regardless of cause, they often have substantial and lasting property damage. Problems can result from the fire itself, from smoke damage, or from water or other materials used to tame the flames. In addition to the visible damage, a home may have significant structural, plumbing, or electrical damage. It is vital to have an experienced, specialized damage inspector carefully examine the property after a fire of any size.
Determining fault after a fire can be a complex process. Insurance companies may attempt to deny a property damage claim by blaming the fire on the homeowner or on an excluded cause. Insurers may also attempt to undervalue the damage to the home or to other personal property. Retaining all investigative reports and documenting the damage thoroughly, including with photographs, can help secure your claim. In some cases, there may also be other liable parties such as a negligent neighbor, a property owner who failed to maintain safe conditions, or the manufacturer of a defective product.
If you've been injured or suffered damages in a Panama City fire, please contact our Panama City injury law firm. We can help you obtain the damages that the law allows and aid you in moving forward from the tragedy.