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Tragic death of firefighters may lead to wrongful death claims

Two Massachusetts firefighters recently lost their lives in a tragic fire that could have been avoided. According to a media report, the firefighters died after they could not escape from the basement of an apartment before being overcome by fire. Despite a police commissioner stating that the fire appeared to be unintentional, the death of the firefighters may lead to wrongful death lawsuits.

Preliminary reports showed that there were welding operations underway at the building next to the one where the two individuals died. Welding activities may only be conducted if a permit is properly obtained, and no records of such an application could be found. An interim fire commissioner explained that sparks originating from where the welders were working on a steel rail were blown onto and underneath the shingles. Once the sparks ignited, the fire extended to the adjacent building that was soon consumed in flames.

The two unfortunate firefighters were overwhelmed while fighting the fire in the basement of the burning building. Because it may jeopardize the investigation, the police were not prepared divulge any additional information. The investigation will focus on exactly what occurred that led to the death of the two firefighters. No criminal charges have been filed in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.

Despite the fact that nobody had been charged in this case, the families of the two firefighters who died retain the right to file and pursue wrongful death claims in a Massachusetts civil court. These claims may include the welders and the company for whom they worked, as well as the owner of the building where they were working, along with other possible defendants. If such a case is litigated successfully, the court may award monetary relief based upon the financial damages sustained. Any monetary recovery achieved may assist the families who are now facing the high costs of funerals and burials, along with loss of income from the brave men who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Source: wfsb.com, "Fatal fire caused by welding operation working without permit", Chris Rueli, April 4, 2014

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