On December 13, 1997, a fire started due to faulty wiring in a wall of a downstairs room in the Hunter’s Point San Francisco Housing Authority units at 132 West Point Road near Candlestick Park, spread through the lower floor and up to the upper floor where it trapped and killed a grandmother and her four grandchildren. A jury later held the SFHA accountable for its negligent failure to maintain the wiring and its failure to comply with Code of Federal Regulations section 965.805 providing that Housing Authority units must have at least one hard-wired or battery operated smoke detectors on each floor of a dwelling unit, and awarded $12 million to the families.
The Housing Authority refused to pay the verdict and ultimately the Court ordered the Director of SFHA held in contempt. Ultimately, the award was paid to the families in full. Tom Brandi of the Brandi Law Firm was the lead attorney for the families in the case through trial and appeal.
On April 16, 2014, another tragedy occurred in the SFHA units claiming the life of three-year-old Santana Williams and his mother, Eseta Ioane, when the hard-wired smoke detector at their two-story unit at 76 Brookdale Avenue apparently failed leading to the two deaths, according to a recently released SF Fire Department Report. Like the family in the 1997 tragedy, they also were found on the second floor bathroom.
Like the 1997 tragedy, this fire raises numerous questions:
When was the detector installed?
When and how did SFHA maintain the smoke detector systems?
Are there any defects in the smoke detectors/ system?
As a result of the 1997 fire, the SFHA installed smoke detectors in all units. The 1997 case established that if the smoke detector worked all would have survived. According to the press accounts, immediate SFHA comments were that the smoke detectors worked. The Fire Department report shows the opposite.
What else will an investigation show into yet another preventable tragedy at the SFHA units?
The Brandi Law Firm has represented numerous families throughout Northern and Southern California in actions involving fire related incidents. The Brandi Law Firm has extensive experience with dealing with the SFHA, both from the long history of the 1997 fire and other matters. If you would like more information, go to our website, or contact us at 1-800-481-1615 or email us.