Two Devastating Fires: $1.5 Billion in Lawsuits and Damages

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In only the last three weeks, there has been lots of destruction from multiple outbreaks of fire. Most of this harm was initiated by two major, as well as recent, fires: the Marshall Wildfire and the Bronx Apartment Fire. The Bronx Apartment Fire resulted in $1 billion in lawsuits, while the Marshall Wildfire caused $500 million in damage.

Marshall Wildfire

The Marshall Wildfire occurred on Dec. 30, 2021, in Boulder County, Colorado. At the start of the fire, the firefighters could not find the source. By the time they found it 15 minutes later, it was too late to stop the massive fire that had spawned.

“[The fire] was consuming football field lengths of land in seconds,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said. “This was a horrific event.”

The fire blazed across a total of 6000 acres due to 110 mph winds. In total, 991 homes were completely destroyed and 127 different houses were damaged, making it the most destructive fire in Colorado history. Many experts could not figure out what started the fire, and the Marshall Wildfire also caused many power outages and road closures.

“It’s like the neighborhood you live in,” Jared Polis, the Boulder County Governor, said. “It’s like the neighborhood that any of us live in. So 1,600 acres near a population center can be – and is, in this case – absolutely devastating.”

Before the fire, Boulder was experiencing cured fuels and strong winds, so a warning was issued, informing the public that a fire could rapidly spread. A few hours later, winds picked up causing a FedEx Truck to blow off the road and for many power lines to fall. Two small fires were reported at 10:10 and 10:27 a.m. At 11:06 a.m., smoke was reported in the area but was not located until 11:21 a.m., when the fire was already spreading rapidly and heading towards Louisville and Superior.

“We could see the smoke and the flames moving across the ridge,” Jennifer Stark, a meteorologist in Boulder, said. “We knew the winds were gusting 110 miles an hour at times. And we knew the density of the population and the homes in that area.”

Bronx Apartment Fire

A few weeks later, on Jan. 9, 2022, the Bronx Apartment Fire happened, resulting in a billion-dollar lawsuit against the building complex’s landlords. Now considered one of the most deadly fires in the state of New York’s modern history, the apartment fire killed a total of 19 people.

The building, which was built 50 years ago, had many safety issues that made the apartment fire escalate. The fire was not contained since the doors of each apartment did not automatically close, spreading the fire from one apartment to another. The alarms also regularly malfunctioned, which made it difficult for many residents to realize that there was, in fact, a fire in the 19-story building.

“There’s no guarantee that there’s a working fire alarm in every apartment, or in every common area,” U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres said. “Most of these buildings have no sprinkler system. And so the housing stock of the Bronx is much more susceptible to devastating fires than most of the housing stock in the city.”

Most of these buildings have no sprinkler system.”

— Ritchie Torres

Since there was no sprinkler system in the building, many people had difficulty getting to safety after realizing there was a fire. Luis Rosa, who was one of the residents in the building, found his entire floor covered in smoke when he walked out of his apartment.

“I said, ‘OK, we can’t run down the stairs because if we run down the stairs, we’re going to end up suffocating,’” Rosa said. “All we could do was wait.”

Over 200 firefighters arrived at the scene. However, there were still many lives lost, including 9 children who lived in the building. Since there were so many casualties, and due to the building being outdated, the residents in the building are currently suing the building owners for one billion dollars.

“This was a horrific tragedy and too many lives were lost,” the New York Law Department said. “There is an active investigation into this tragic incident. We’ll review the claim.”

Both the Marshall Fire and the Bronx Apartment Fire have had major impacts. While the Marshall Fire created lots of destruction, the Bronx Fire resulted in multiple deaths to civilians. The Marshall Fire now goes down as the topmost destructive fire in Colorado, while the Bronx Apartment Fire is considered one of the worst fires in New York history.