Windermere fire victims reach multi-million-dollar settlement

Posted on 11 December 2014 by Mike Lyons


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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Fire displaces residents at 51st and Ludlow (updated)

Posted on 24 November 2014 by

UPDATE 2 (8:35 p.m.): Several pets were also affected by today’s fire at 51st and Ludlow. The Red Paw Emergency Relief Team were on the scene searching for cats missing after the fire. Sadly, two cats perished in the fire and two more are still missing:

UPDATE: Red Cross is assisting six people affected by the fire. We’re trying to confirm neighbors’ information that no one was injured in the fire.

4:40 p.m.: West Philly Local readers are reporting a fire at a three-story duplex at the corner of 51st and Ludlow. Smoke is coming out of the 2nd and 3rd floor windows. Fire fighters are on the scene.



Photos by Matty Starrdust.

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Overnight fire, evacuations at West Park Apartments

Posted on 07 November 2014 by

An overnight fire at West Park Apartments, a highrise apartment complex located just north of Market Street near 45th, led to the evacuation of dozens of residents. No injuries were reported.

The fire was reported at approximately 1:45 a.m. on the 18th floor of the building located at 4445 Holden Street. It was put out in about 30 minutes, according to reports.

Residents who live on the 17th, 18th and 19th floor of the building and a number of other residents were evacuated. The 17th floor reportedly sustained water damage. It is currently not known what caused the fire.


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Police rescue two people in overnight fire at 39th and Aspen

Posted on 12 July 2014 by

Two cops rescued people from an overnight fire in the Mantua section. The fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday on the first floor of a three-story standalone house on the 3900 block of Aspen Street, according to various reports. Two 16th district police officers, one of them a former firefighter, helped two people escape the flames. Reportedly, a firefighter sustained a minor injury in the fire.

Audio is available from the Fire Department call from the scene (below), presented by (the address on the audio is wrong). 6ABC has a video from the scene.


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Three people escape house fire at 51st and Chestnut, thanks to neighbor’s help

Posted on 05 July 2014 by

Thanks to quick actions by a neighbor, three people were able to escape an early morning house fire. The fire broke out shortly before 1:30 a.m. in a three-story row home near 51st and Chestnut Streets, according to a 6ABC News reportWest Philly Local readers reported seeing a big, “raging orange” fire in the area.

A neighbor, Jamara Lamont-Boyd, who was walking by when the fire broke out, reportedly kicked the front door in and helped the house occupants escape the flames before fire crews arrived.

“…I kicked the front door in. I pulled the second door and yanked it in and banged and got the people out. There were people on all three floors,” Lamont-Boyd told ABC.

The building sustained damage from smoke and water. Luckily, no injuries were reported.

There was another, tragic fire in Philadelphia early Saturday morning. Four children died, several homes were destroyed and about 40 residents were displaced as the result of a fire that broke out around 2:40 a.m. in Southwest Philadelphia, in the Mount Moriah section, according to various reports.


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Fire-gutted building at 46th and Spruce gets new windows, but no sign of renovation

Posted on 17 June 2014 by Annamarya Scaccia


The former Transition To Independent Living Center building at the corner of S. 46th and Spruce streets. (photo West Philly Local)

Since being gutted in a fire three years ago, the former Transition to Independent Living Center at 4534-36 Spruce Street has become an eyesore for the community. Despite local street artists turning it into an open canvas, no signs of demolition or renovation have occurred at the derelict corner building—at least, not until recently.

According to neighbor reports, the owners of 4534-36 Spruce Street recently replaced the building’s windows after the city slapped them with a blight violation. One West Philly Local reader even reported that workers she spoke with at the site confirmed they were installing new windows because “the owner had been collecting fines from the city as a result of the boarded-up windows” and that they are planning to renovate the building—although no one knows why or for what.


The north facing wall of the building is covered with street art.

“The property is now a blight on the neighborhood, collecting graffiti and a truly amazing collection of discarded chewing gum,” the reader, known as Mary, wrote in a comment on our site. “It’s been years since the fire and they have had sufficient time to settle any insurance issues and make a decision about the building’s future.”

As West Philly Local reported late last year, a search of the Department of Licenses and Inspection database shows that the owners were issued with both window and license violations on October 3, 2013, and were ordered to secure windows with “windows that have frames and glazing.” (The original violation, which was sent to court, was updated on January 16, 2014 to reflect the owners compliance with property license requirements). On May 29, the owners were cited with another two blight violations, one for the vacant property and one for the windows it recently replaced—that case remains open.

West Philly Local reached out to the owners, but they did not return our request for comment. We’ll keep you updated when we receive new information.

-Annamarya Scaccia

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