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Attention Residents of the Wedgwood Apartments

To those that suffered through one the most deadly high-rise fires to occur in United States history. Six individuals lost their lives and more than 50 individuals are believed to have suffered inhalation injuries, pulmonary injuries, physical injuries and PTSD.

If you or a loved one was injured or wrongfully killed call our Law Firm at 800-862-1260.

It is important that you understand how and why this fire grew from a small one unit fire on the third floor to a preventable tragedy.

We believe that the extent of those injured and number of deaths that occurred from the Wedgwood Apartments Fire could have lessened, if some basic steps had been carried out by the Wedgwood Apartment Management, Owners or other responsible parties.

Our Law Firm has lead the charge to understand how and why a single unit fire on the third floor of the Wedgwood Apartments, grew into this City’s worst ever high rise fire and one of the worst in the nation.

It is understood that the Wedgwood is consider a high rise residential building that has been marketed to senior citizens for decades. To begin to understand what went wrong, you must go back in time. Where you find this high-rise apartment, built in 1962 with a list of deferred maintenance issues.

An apartment complex, that was in desperate need of improvements. An apartment building that did not have even the most basic fire sprinkler suppression system ever installed. An apartment complex that was experiencing major issues with its fire detection system. An apartment complex with smoke detectors, at the time of the fire, incapable of detecting smoke at all of its’ installed locations.

A complex with smoke alarms incapable, at the time of the fire, of sounding alarms in all of its locations. A high rise complex full of senior residents with health issues, some completely handicapped and others simply not physically capable of self-evacuation thru dark stairwells that extended 11 floors up.

Consider all of these issues, then consider the following.

At 6:10 am on a cold and misting December morning, some of the fire alarms began sounding, while others were incapable of sounding.

The alarms in the Wedgewood had sounded on multiple occurrences in the previous months and years, which were all false fire alarms in the past. But on that morning, unbeknownst to the residents, this alarm was real.

Most residents simply went back to sleep or ignored the noise since they had experienced so many false alarms before. Other residents were scared to death for they were not capable of exiting thru the stairwells due to their infirmities and the elevators had all been deactivated for this fire was real.

Emergency Fire crews were dispatched from across the city, however, the evacuation was slowed by several factors. It has been gathered that no plan was ever practiced. Additionally, many of the elderly residents needed assistance since they had trouble navigating the stairs of the 11-story complex, the alarms were sounding on some locations but not at others and the smoke was thick in some of the stairwells.

The smoke released during the Wedgewood Fire was a mixture of particles and chemicals produced by incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. All smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter (PM or soot).

The smoke in the Wedgewood Fire also contain many different chemicals, including aldehydes, acid gases, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, toluene, styrene, heavy metals and/or dioxins.

The type and amount of particles and chemicals in smoke varies depending on what is burning, how much oxygen was available, and the burn temperature.

As a result of the fire, six individuals died. The names include Karen Rae Betz, Jose Gonzales, Ramon Villarreal, Molly Urban, Anita Marie Woodson and Charlene Lowry.

It is believed that at least fifty individuals were injured with smoke inhalation related injuries and at least 11 individuals were transported by EMS where they were admitted into area hospitals.

It is important to understand that even if you were not transported by EMS to a hospital, injuries for smoke inhalation and PTSD symptoms have been identified and are continuing to be identified. How would you know if you suffered smoke inhalation or from PTSD.

Those Wedgewood Residents with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions such as COPD may be more vulnerable to the health effects of smoke exposure.

Inhaling smoke for a short time can cause immediate (acute) effects. Studies have shown that some people exposed to heavy smoke have changes in lung function, which makes breathing more difficult.

Inhaling carbon monoxide decreases the body's oxygen supply. This can cause headaches, reduce alertness, and aggravate a heart condition known as angina. Fine particles are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Inhaling fine particles can cause a variety of health effects, including respiratory irritation and shortness of breath, and can worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. During increased physical exertion, cardiovascular effects can be worsened by exposure to carbon monoxide and particulate matter.

It must be further explained that symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be terrifying. They may disrupt your life and make it hard to continue with your daily activities. It may be hard just to get through the day.

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you may have PTSD.

The current condition of the Wedgwood is dangerous for residents. Recently building inspectors deemed the Wedgwood Apartment unsafe for habitation as a result of the fire and as a result of the discovery of asbestos that was being used as a type insulation or building product in the building. It is unclear if the residents were ever informed by the Management or the Owners of the presence of asbestos in the building, prior to the fire. We now have a better understanding of specifically how and why this tragedy reached this level. Our Team of trial lawyers and our Firm have employed some of the best fire, building code, and construction and toxicology experts in the Nation. These experts will be key to seeking financial recoveries for our injured clients.

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries or were wrongfully killed as a result of this fire, call us day or night, we can help answer questions and seek justice from the responsible parties.

If you are suffering from smoke inhalation injuries, pulmonary injuries, physical injuries, PTSD or you believe you have a condition that is related to the fire that has not been formally diagnosed, call us.

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries or were wrongfully killed as a result of this fire, call us day or night, we can help answer questions and seek justice from the responsible parties.

If you are suffering from smoke inhalation injuries, pulmonary injuries, physical injuries, PTSD or you believe you have a condition that is related to the fire that has not been formally diagnosed, call us at 800-862-1260.

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