Father of Five Children Killed in Minneapolis House Fire Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit
On Valentine’s Day in 2014, a massive residential fire was reported in Minneapolis at the 2800 Colfax Avenue around five in the morning. Responding fire officials were directed towards a three-story duplex unit, which according to later reports, was the location where Troy Lewis and his seven children had made residence since the passing of their mother the prior November. At the scene of the large fire, which engulfed the majority of a fifteen person duplex unit in north Minneapolis, witnesses and fire officials reported witnesses Lewis removing two of his children from the flaming residence, as fire officials attempted to reach the remaining individuals trapped inside the burning building. Ultimately, once the sun rose, the totality of the losses from the fire shocked the entire state of Minnesota, prompting Governor Dayton to issue a dual statement of condolences to the family of the departed, while praising the efforts of over forty fire department employees, who struggled to control the overwhelming blaze in highly unfavorable winter weather conditions.
In the end, five children died from injuries sustained in the house fire, with Lewis and his two surviving children sustaining serious injuries placing all three into critical condition for a period of time at Minneapolis area hospitals. Likewise, one firefighter was injured in fighting the blaze which required medical attention. The five child victims of this house fire, who ranged in age from an infant to an eight year old, could not be saved herculean efforts by both Lewis, local fire officials, and those local hospitals tasked with attempting to save the lives of two children rescued at the scene, but later declared deceased by hospital officials.
Father Files Wrongful Death Claim, Alleging Space Heaters and Malfunctioning Electrical Outlets as Proximate Cause of the Fire
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Minnesota fire officials from the State Fire Marshal Division determined that the cause of the fatal blaze was inconclusive, but did not that Lewis relied upon multiple space heaters to provide warmth in the large home lacking a robust central heating system. Fire officials did go on record, alongside property owners, to state that the building itself underwent code inspection as recently as November of 2013 before the February 2014 blaze.
In a lawsuit filed by Lewis in October of 2015, however, Lewis alleges that the duplex itself was culpable for failing to prevent or mitigate the damages sustained in the fire, including noting that the residence lacked proper heating forcing the relatively unsafe use of space heaters, the duplex lacked reliable smoke detectors and easily accessible exits, and finally, Lewis alleges that the electrical outlets of the unit were known to malfunction, thus presenting a likely source of the blaze, if not found in the malfunction of the space heaters. Moreover, these statements concerning faulty electrical outlets were substantiated by prior residents of the duplex, with one family stating directly that the risks posed by the outlets were the justification for moving from the complex.