Windsor Green condo complex sustained another major fire in 2013
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Every week I read several reports of fires in multifamily housing, including condominiums. Sometimes, in addition to significant property damage that displaces residents, a fire results in fatalities or personal injuries.
Windsor Green Condominium, Myrtle Beach, was the site of a second major fire in five years. Back in 2013, according to a report by horrynews.com, fire destroyed 26 condo units and displaced close to 200 residents.
The most recent fire, which occurred in mid-April, destroyed 11 units and injured seven residents.
Several residents jumped off of their balconies to escape the smoke and fire, including members of the Alewine family. Brian and his wife both jumped off of the third floor balcony, after dropping their sons, ages 3 and 10 to the ground below, as the fire raged close behind them.
Incredibly, despite the devastation of 2013, condo buildings at Windsor Green still lack basic fire safety infrastructure. There are no sprinkler systems, working smoke alarms, or fire escapes from second or third floor condo apartments.
According to a recent news conference on WPDE, a neighbor was able to catch the 3-year-old child in his arms as he fell from the balcony. However, the other three members of the Alewine family sustained serious injuries, including broken bones. They are still recovering from those injuries.
A bit of internet research reveals that most of the units are occupied by tenants or rented on a short-term basis. The community is adjacent to a golf course, and short drive to historic Charleston. Recent sale prices of 2 bedroom, 2 bath condos have ranged between $100-$150K.
Now, in addition to the cost of relocating dozens of residents and rebuilding the destroyed units, condo owners face the unknown costs of litigation.
Morgan & Morgan attorneys Benjamin Wilson and Dylan Bess are representing the Alewine family, and conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire at Windsor Green, in preparation for an “imminent” lawsuit against the condo association and management company, Benchmark CAMs.
Wilson and Bess say their investigation reveals that a bird’s nest inside a breezeway light caused the fire. They point out that Windsor Green Condo Association is responsible for maintaining common areas, including breezeways and exterior lighting, and that their investigators have discovered birds’ nests in several other lighting fixtures, creating additional fire hazards.
Attorneys Wilson and Bess also call for Horry County officials to force Windsor Green Condo Association to correct violations of fire safety codes, in order to prevent another fire.
Watch the 35-minute press conference on WPDE, linked below, for more details.
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