On Friday morning there was a terrible fire in a housing apartment near Frostburg State in Maryland. Two individuals died as a result of smoke inhalation from the fire. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Evan Kullberg and Alyssa Salazar who by all accounts were absolutely amazing individuals. Mr.Kullberg is from Montgomery County Maryland and Ms. Salazar is from Anne Arundel County Maryland.
Most of the time, when a fire like this occurs and people are injured or killed due to smoke inhalation it is due to the fact that the smoke detectors (required by law) either did not work or were not properly installed and/or because of other building code violations. This is usually the responsiblity of the landlord. The fire occurred at 82 E. Main Street. A properly functioning smoke detector would have saved these students lives. The landlord who owns the building---PJ Fiorita and Malino's Pizza shop would be responsible for the deaths and a lawsuit for negligence could be filed. The Maryland negligence and wrongful death claims would be proven by establishing that the premises did not meet the applicable fire code and building code through expert testimony, which would establish a standard of care that was violated (actually in Maryland, the violation of a code provision is only evidence of negligence. It is not negligence per se like it is in most other states). In a fire case it is really important to hire an attorney and/or independent investigator early on so that all evidence necessary to prove the case is preserved--and so that a proper investigation of what occurred can be done without having to rely on the local fire department's investigation which is ofen underfunded and sometimes even inaccurate and biased to keep local business owners and landlords out of hot water. It is also important that the families of those with a legal claim send out letters to the responsible parties, their insurance carriers and attorneys instructing them to preserve all evidence relating to the fire including any evidence of smoke detectors or other materials relating in any way to the fire.