A mother who contends her deceased child’s ashes were stolen in the aftermath of a Tacoma-area apartment fire has sued the landlord, as have 11 other tenants.
The renters say firefighters told them they could go in and retrieve their belongings after the building where they lived at the Woodmark Apartments complex, 2430 S. 96th St., burned Oct. 14.
But a manager of the complex kept the residents from re-entering the dwellings, they allege.
Woodmark officials did not return a call from The News Tribune on Thursday.
The tenants’ lawsuit was filed May 3 in Pierce County Superior Court. It alleges:
The fire started after someone living at the complex fell asleep with food on the stove.
Tenants were forced to flee their homes, and they later asked apartment management to secure their units.
That could have been done with a fence and a guard, said Elizabeth Powell, the attorney representing the renters.
The lawsuit also alleges:
Woodmark managers didn’t secure the apartments, and looters raided a number of units.
Among the stolen items was an urn that held the cremated remains of one tenant’s daughter.
The “landlord did nothing while their tenants had no place to go, and failed to provide secure doors and windows, and failed to protect their tenant’s property from looters,” Powell wrote in the complaint, which seeks unspecified damages.
She also argued Woodmark officials were obligated to provide the tenants housing after the fire.
Instead, several displaced by the blaze had to sleep in their cars that night.
“Some of these people are living on less than $700 a month,” Powell told The News Tribune on Thursday. “They are people who are surviving on limited means.”
One of the tenants who sued was seriously burned trying to escape the blaze.