Second family files lawsuit in 2018 Windsor Green fire

Grand Strand
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A second family has filed a lawsuit in the 2018 Windsor Green fire in the Carolina Forest area. 

Theresa and Doug Emminger filed the lawsuit on Monday on behalf on themselves and their family, according to the lawsuit. Windsor Green Owners Association and others are listed as defendants. 

In the lawsuit, the family claims they suffered injuries and damages as a result of the fire that happened on April 12, 2018 at the Windsor Green Condominium Complex. 

The lawsuit claims “no smoke alarms sounded and the building did not have a fire alarm system, sprinkler system, or a secondary means of egress” and that the plaintiffs’ condo “was not equipped with an escape ladder.”

The family also claims in the lawsuit that by the time the fire was discovered, the single exit was blocked by flames and heavy smoke and the family was forced to jump from their third story balcony. 

“Horry County Fire Investigators determined that the subject fire originated on the second floor exterior breezeway in the Plaintiffs’ building at or around the light fixture outside of unit 201,” states the lawsuit. “The breezeway, light fixture, and light bulb were located in a common area and exclusively controlled, inspected, and/or maintained by Defendant Windsor Green and/or Defendant Benchmark and its employees.”

In June, Horry County Fire Rescue crews said the cause of the fire was undetermined

Fire Investigator James Cyganiewicz said there was too much damage to determine what actually caused the blaze.

“From the facts gathered at the scene, my training and experience, witness statements, it is the opinion of this investigator that the origin of this fire was on the 2nd floor exterior breezeway in the area of the unit 201. Due to extensive damage and lack of physical evidence, the exact fire cause is undetermined. This fire has been classified as undetermined,” the Windsor Green fire report reads.

The lawsuit further claims negligence, saying the defendants knew, or should have known, that the common area light bulbs were improperly installed and/or defective.

The lawsuit further references a fire at the complex in March 2013, where “thirty (30) buildings and over one hundred residential units at the Complex were damaged and/or destroyed by a fire.” About 26 buildings “were reconstructed and/or renovated after the 2013 fire to include fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, and a secondary means of egress.”

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege their building “was one of a few buildings at the Complex after the 2013 fire that was not reconstructed, repaired, and/or renovated to comply with local fire and building codes, including fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, and secondary means of escape for occupants.”

The plaintiffs ask for the following in the lawsuit:

  • “Physical injuries”
  • “Emotional and mental anguish and suffering”
  • “Loss of enjoyment of life”
  • “Loss of Consortium”
  • “Economic losses, wages, and benefits”
  • “Past, present and future medical and related expenses”
  • “Past, present and future pain and suffering”
  • “Permanent scarring and disfigurement”
  • “Permanent impairment and disability”
  • “Lost wages and loss of wage earning capacity”
  • “Property damage”
  • “Loss of use of property”
  • All other damages recoverable under South Carolina law to be shown at the trial of this matter.”

The full lawsuit can be read here

On Thursday, Brian Alewine and his family filed a lawsuit against Windsor Green owners, property management companies, and others, over the lack of fire equipment and claim their negligence contributed to the spread of the fire. 

Seven people were hurt in the fire and 911 calls showed fear of a repeat of the 2013 fire. “Windsor Green is on fire. It’s not my unit, but I’m driving by and it looks like one of the units is one fire,” said the initial caller who reported the blaze at the condo community. “We do not need another episode like we did before.”

Blake Cannon, a 16-year-old Carolina Forest High School student at the time of the fire, was honored by Horry County Council after the fire for catching Alewine’s three-year-old from the third floor balcony. Firefighter Davis Trussell was also honored for saving a woman and her dog from their burning apartment. 

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