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More tenants sue after fire: Six-alarm blaze at Redwood City apartment killed one and left nearly 100 homeless
August 22, 2013, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal

At least 22 complaints have been filed in Superior Court by former residents of the Hallmark House Apartments in Redwood City after a six-alarm blaze killed one and left nearly 100 homeless July 7.

The complaints were filed Tuesday and at least six more will be filed soon, said attorney Ara Jabagchourian with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.

More former tenants are also considering suing KDF Hallmark, the owner of the 72-unit apartment complex on Woodside Road that has been deemed uninhabitable.

Many of the fire victims interviewed last week for housing at the Woodland Apartments in East Palo Alto, which had 21 studios and two one-bedroom apartments for rent, according to representatives with InnVision Shelter Network.

Yesterday, Redwood City officials confirmed that at least 16 households from Hallmark are expected to move into the Woodland Park Apartments.

Fire investigators have stated the fire was likely an accident that started in a third-floor unit where the deceased, 48-year-old Darin Michael Demello-Pine, was cooking at about 1:45 a.m.

The complex did not have sprinklers.

New complaints were filed by former residents Tanesha Fobbs, Angela Parks and several others Tuesday.

The blaze was the fault of KDF Hallmark’s “failure to properly inspect, maintain and safeguard the property from a foreseeable unit fire,” according to the very first complaint filed by the Jorge and Juanita Chavez July 16.

Six weeks after the deadly fire, many of the former residents are still not able to find housing nor recover all of their belongings.

Redwood City officials along with other service providers from the county and local nonprofits have hosted a series of town hall meetings at the Fair Oaks Community Center to update residents on how to retrieve their belongings and tips on finding permanent housing.

Many of the former residents received housing assistance from the county including section 8 vouchers and many are now living in motels on housing vouchers that expire at the end of the month.

Landlord KDF Hallmark refunded residents’ July rent and returned deposits and has also provided letters of recommendations for the former tenants to help them find new housing.

Residents were only given 15 minutes two days after the fire broke out to go inside their units to take back any of their belongings. Some of the residents contend their units only suffered water damage and that they should have been able to get all of their belongings back already. Much of the third floor of the complex was completely destroyed by the fire and the rest of the building suffered major water and smoke damage.

Fire victims are still in need of everyday household items such as kitchenware. Items can be dropped off by appointment only on Fridays, between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Extra Space Storage, 871 Willow St. (in Redwood City just south of Woodside Road). Please call Bonnie Miller to coordinate at 280-4266.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106



Tags: residents, their, former, housing, filed, apartments,

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