Class action suit filed in Conshohocken fire

August 18, 2008 4:17:40 PM PDT
It is now official. Last week's apartment fire in Conshohocken was an accident, sparked by acetylene torches being used by workmen. Meanwhile, both residents and officials were back on site today. Residents in the building affected the most were given 90 minutes to retrieve their belongings today. Sadly for many, that was more than enough time because very little inside their apartments was left.

Workers carried out the precious few belongings salvaged after the fire, in these units residents had little hope of retrieving anything bigger than what could fit in a box.

Djennwa Bowman says, "Clothes, furniture and all that. That doesn't matter. It's just my pictures."

With a baby on the way, this couple only wishes to put last Wednesday's monster fire behind them because all their belongings went up in flames.

"I'm going to stay in the area and we're going to find another home. And start building new memories," said Djennwa's husband, Martin Bowman.

Donated gift bags lined the street for the fire victims, but the only gift Heather Ward is interested in is her cats. Neither have been seen since the blaze.

Ward says, "Things can be replaced, you know. Find another apartment - you can rebuild. All those things don't matter, you know? I just... my cats are the most important thing to me."

Getting the most for the fire victims is an attorney who filed a class action lawsuit today.

Attorney Robert Mongeluzzi told the press today, "Wood and flame do not mix. This was a colossal construction failure."

In response, developer Brian O'Neill told reporters, "Unfortunately in all the tragedies that occur, there always seems to be a place for the plaintiff's lawyers. Our attorneys will be responding to that lawsuit. And other than that I have no comment."

State and local officials know they will have to answer questions about building and safety codes, and while indications are that all were in order the absence of rooftop sprinkler systems and firewalls will likely prompt a change in standards.

"While this, I'm confident that the buildings here were built consistent with the code, I think all of us have to look at strengthening the code," said Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel.

The Red Cross is providing money and supplies to displaced residents to help them in the fire's aftermath. If you'd like to donate money to the organization's disaster relief fund, call (215) 299-4000.

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