Fire investigators have ruled that the fatal fire in the Franklinton area of Columbus that killed three members of a family on Christmas Eve was accidental, but that does not mean that the deaths were not preventable and may not be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Fire investigators pieced together the sequence of events that lead to the fatal fire that killed a man, his girlfriend, and her daughter. It apparently began in a bedroom where a space heater caught a mattress on fire. To attempt to put the fire out, the man pulled the mattress out from under his girlfriend, but his act apparently fanned the flames. Investigators suspect the man then pushed the mattress out of the house, but it fell down in front of the houses’ front door, blocking the exit. When firefighters arrived on the scene, the house was being engulfed with flame. All three people were found near the front door, overcome by smoke and fire.

Although the fire was accidental, fault may lie partly with the property owner. In 2009, the property was declared “not habitable” by city building code inspectors. This was due to a malfunctioning water heater and furnace. The landlord claims that he had the property serviced according to instructions and brought up to code, but Columbia Gas says they inspected the property on Saturday after a report of a gas odor, found a leak, and had shut the gas off. With temperatures in the 30s all day, the family needed heat and relied on the space heater, which are more likely to result in fires.

If it is found that the landlord had not really complied with instructions for making the house habitable prior to moving tenants in to the house, he may have a high share of blame in this terrible tragedy, one that may result in a wrongful death lawsuit.

If you have lost a loved one as a result of a so-called accident that may have been the result of another person’s negligence, you may be able to receive compensation for your loss. Please contact the Columbus personal injury lawyers of Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA