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Few answers from negligent property owner in 2016 warehouse fire

One year after a damaging warehouse fire in Rhode Island's regional neighbor of New Jersey, a significant number of questions remain about safety in similar structures. Although no one was seriously injured in this particular fire, the property owner is being criticized for failing to make changes to protect others who may enter the premises. State and local officials say they are concerned about premises liability concerns associated with inappropriate storage, poor sprinkler system availability and other major hazards at the facility.

Local fire officials in Hillsborough, New Jersey, say that the property owner has not made necessary changes that would protect those who visit or work at the premises. Without an improvement in fire protection at the facility, occupants are subject to a dangerous property condition that could lead to fatalities in the future. Investigators believe that the 2016 fire, which caused more than $50 million in damages, was attributable to the high-intensity lighting in the facility.

Further complicating the issue: The fact that the warehouses are held on federal property. The General Services Administration and other agencies are working together to develop a solution to eliminate the property hazards, but local officials are skeptical that the changes will be made up to code. This lack of repair could lead to injuries for workers and vendors who use the warehouse facilities, according to investigators and others.

Every business and property owner has the responsibility to keep their premises safe for employees, vendors, customers and other visitors. Inadequate lighting was to blame for the fire in this case, which could have seriously injured those on-site. Victims who are injured because of a negligent property owner deserve to recover damages for their lost wages, medical costs and other civil expenses.

Source: NJ.com, "Safety concerns remain 1 year after massive warehouse fire," Dave Hutchinson, Feb. 10, 2017

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