February 1, 2012-Santa Rosa, CA-44-year-old Monica Shears died Monday from burns sustained in a house fire last week, authorities reported.
Ms. Shears was discovered on the ground just inside the doorway to her apartment on Sebastapol Road on January 16. Firefighters entered the building to fight a blaze which started in an empty bedroom on the second floor of the building. According to Battalion Chief Mark Basque, an empty gasoline can was found in the bedroom where the fire started. Sprinklers were able to contain the blaze, which was extinguished in about five minutes. No charges have been filed in the case at present.
Ms. Shears suffered second- and third-degree burns over the upper part of her body. She had earlier been transferred to the Bothin Burn Center at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco.
I want to extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to Ms. Shears’s family and friends during this difficult time.
Between 1994 and 1998, an average of 4,400 people per year died in house fires, and another 25,100 were injured, according to burnsurvivor.com, a website dedicated to burn victims and their families. Many other people are injured or killed every year in other “burn”-related accidents, such as chemical spills and industrial accidents. The United States continues to have one of the highest rates of burn deaths in the industrialized world.
What Happened in This Accident
The lack of statements given by the authorities about the cause of this fire lead to the speculation that it was not accidental in origin. The gas can found in the back bedroom supports the theory that the fire was set deliberately.
What is not clear from the story is if the police suspect that Ms. Shears had anything to do with the fire being set, or if she was simply an innocent victim. From the wording of the police statement, it would appear that she was simply a victim and had nothing to do with the fire itself.
What is very clear is that Ms. Shears died of injuries sustained during this fire, so if someone else is responsible for the fire or the fact that Ms. Shears was burned, then liability becomes an issue.
Liability in this case could attach to anyone who had knowledge of the fire starting or who aided in the starting of the blaze. Liability could also be an issue for the landlord of the building, especially if proper safety measures were not in place to prevent the fire from spreading rapidly.
A professional wrongful death attorney should make a thorough investigation of the situation once the facts are known, and determine who is responsible for Ms. Shears’s injuries and death. Contacting a professional wrongful death lawyer is essential in order to pursue recovery in this case.