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Windermere Apartments fire victims get their money

Posted on 14 January 2016 by Mike Lyons

never-again

Protestors took to the streets in the days following the devastating 2011 fire at Windermere Court Apartments. Photos by West Philly Local).

Five years after a catastrophic fire destroyed the Windermere Court Apartments at 48th and Walnut, building tenants who participated in a class-action lawsuit have received their share of a $4.75 million settlement.

fireThe fire that broke out on Jan. 10, 2011 destroyed the 90-unit building and left its residents scrambling for housing. Many spent days protesting the building owner’s decision not to let them return to retrieve their belongings and pets that may have survived the blaze.

The cause of the fire is disputed. An expert determined on behalf of the tenants during a 2013 civil trial that the fire resulted from faulty smoke alarms and sprinklers. The building owners – David, Sam and Aron Ginsberg – settled the suit a few days into the 2014 trial for $4.75 million and the settlement was certified last January.

The tenants’ class-action attorney, Tom Marrone, said that the payouts were completed this week. Each tenant who signed onto the suit received an average of $25,000 after legal and other fees.

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New car for Red Paw Relief Team presented near Windermere fire site

Posted on 15 May 2015 by WestPhillyLocal.com

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A Red Paw Emergency Relief Team volunteer and rescued dog posing near the donated car. (Photo by West Philly Local).

Here’s some great news for a great local organization that has helped save lives of hundreds of our little friends and companions since its inception in 2011. Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, a non-profit that responds to fires and other disasters in the city and helps displaced pets, has just received a new vehicle, which will allow them to continue their important work, since their old car started breaking down too often. The new car was donated by NRG Home.

red paw3The new vehicle was presented to Red Paw’s staff and volunteers, including the founder and former firefighter Jennifer Leary, this afternoon near the corner of 48th and Walnut Streets, across the street from the empty lot where the Windermere Court Apartments building once stood. Red Paw was created in the aftermath of the devastating fire at Windermere in January 2011. Many pets remained trapped inside the heavily damaged and structurally unstable building for weeks after the fire, which prompted rescue efforts by local pet rescue organizations.

Jennifer Leary was one of the firefighters responding to the Windermere fire. She founded Red Paw in July 2011.

 

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Windermere fire victims reach multi-million-dollar settlement

Posted on 11 December 2014 by Mike Lyons

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Dozens of former residents of the Windermere Court apartments at 48th and Walnut, which burned down in early 2011, have scored a tentative multi-million-dollar victory in a class action lawsuit against the building’s owners.

The suit was filed soon after the devastating January 2011 fire and claimed that the building’s owners and management company failed to maintain smoke detectors, fire alarms and the four-story building’s sprinkler system. The suit was filed against owners David, Sam and Aron Ginsberg, all from New Jersey, and the management company that oversaw maintenance of the building.

The residents’ attorney, Thomas More Marrone, said in a statement that residents were in tears in the court hallways when they heard the news of the proposed $4.75 million settlement, which was reached three days after the civil trial began.Fire-address-300x225

Most of the residents fled the four-story building with very few possessions and were barred from re-entering their apartments, prompting weeks of protests following the fire. The building was demolished in April 2011.

Before the demolition, residents were told they could request belongings from their apartments, but they had to fit into two garbage bags.

The fire prompted an outpouring of support from West Philly residents, businesses and non-profits, many of whom organized fundraisers and collected clothing for the more than 100 displaced Windermere residents. Animal relief organizations also worked around the clock to help save many of the pets that didn’t make it out of the building.

Here is an interview days after the fire with one of the plaintiffs named in the case, J.B. Farley, on the quick demolition of the building.

Here is video of the fire:

Mike Lyons

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Demolition of Windermere Court almost complete

Posted on 02 April 2011 by Mike Lyons

Demolition crews knocked down the last couple of walls at the Windermere Court Apartments at 48th and Walnut Streets on Saturday. Fire devastated the building on January 10 and led to a protracted battle between residents, the building’s owners and the city. A class action lawsuit against the building’s owners, David and Sam Ginsberg, was filed in February.

There has been no announcement about plans for the half-block lot where the buildings once stood.

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A member of the demolition crew watches as two excavators finish off the Windermere Court building at 48th and Walnut on Saturday.

 

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Windermere fire fundraiser tonight

Posted on 04 March 2011 by Mike Lyons

Just a reminder that the “Arts for the Cause” fundraiser for victims of the Windermere Court Apartments fire is tonight beginning at 8:30 p.m. at The Rotunda (4014 Walnut St.). The fundraiser features a number of great musical performances. Check out the flier for more details.

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Click to enlarge.

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Windermere Court Apartments demolition began today

Posted on 28 February 2011 by Mike Lyons

windermereThe demolition of the Windermere Court Apartments at 48th and Walnut, which had been on hold, proceeded today.

Crews have begun to remove the top floors on the southwest corner of the four-story building near where the Jan. 10 fire began. The demolition had been delayed as residents pressured the building’s owners and the city to allow them to retrieve more of their belongings and giving stranded pets some additional time to be rescued or leave the building.

The West Philly-based feline rescue group City Kitties ended their rescue efforts inside the building on Feb. 19 as warm weather melted ice inside the building leaving the building more unstable. City Kitties, the Walnut Hill Community Association, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s office helped residents make their stories known throughout the region. City Kitties has set up a website – windermerefirepets.org – to help keep alive the concerns that came up in the fire’s aftermath.

Residents have also filed a class-action lawsuit against building owners, David and Sam Ginsberg, and management company, Windermere Court Management Corp. The suit alleges that the building was not equipped with the proper fire suppression equipment – sprinklers and smoke alarms – and that the building had not been regularly inspected.

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