Lawsuits Filed Against Landlord in Deadliest Fire in Charleston's History


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Monday marks the two-year anniversary of the deadliest fire in Charleston’s history.

It was in the very early morning hours of March 24, 2012, when a fire along Arlington Avenue killed nine people, including seven young children.

Now, three lawsuits have been filed against the landlord, claiming complaints were made about condition of the house and nothing was done about it.

Two mothers have filed on behalf of their children, blaming the landlord for the fire that took their children's lives.

Gwendolyn LeVert has filed on behalf of Alexander Lee Seals, who was 27 when he died.
Sharday McGee has filed on behalf of McKenzie Seals who was 4 years old and Gabrielle Seals who was 6.

They claim the landlord, Deloris Shamblen, knew about deteriorating water pipes and electrical wires, but did nothing.

They said she also failed to properly install, inspect and maintain smoke alarms.

Investigators found one working smoke detector in the house after the fire. A cause was never determined, and the house was torn down.

WSAZ.com contacted Shamblen who referred us to her attorney, Francis Ford, who said he is not commenting on the case at this time.

If you rent in Charleston and have concerns, Building Commissioner Tony Harmon said to call the city’s building department and they’ll inspect the place for you.

“Any safety item, we're gonna look at and address,” Harmon said.

Inspectors will notify your landlord of any vital safety issues. The landlord will have 24 hours to respond and then 21 days to fix the problems.

If they don't, they can be fined up to $500 every day the issue isn't corrected.

“You've got your family there. You're there. It needs to be as safe as can be,” Harmon said.

However, if you live outside city limits or in any area with no enforcement of building codes, Harmon said there aren’t many options.

Inspectors can't come to your house, but he said they can at least answer any questions and lead you in the right direction. The number for Charleston’s Building Department is (304) 348-6833.


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