The recent rash of fires seen in Arkansas in cities such as Fort Smith is doubly concerning because in addition to the property damage, the cause of all three fires is still uncertain.
Abandoned buildings and famous restaurants have both experienced multiple damaging fires within the last week. For instance, on July 23rd, the famous Red Barn Steakhouse, a century old barn and restaurant, caught on fire. By the time the fire department and police officials arrived, the flames had spread to the outside of the building. The cause of the restaurant’s fire is still unclear.
On July 22nd and July 23rd, the same apartment building in Fort Smith, Arkansas caught on fire during two consecutive days. The fire department and the Fire Marshal are still uncertain about the exact cause of the fire.There is suspicion that an arsonist may be in the neighborhood who is targeting and lighting fires in abandoned buildings.
At this time, it is not clear whether the fires are connected or if all three fires in Fort Worth are unrelated. Additionally, since arson is still a possible cause of all three fires, there may be additional fires on the horizon if the fires are linked and a serial arsonist is implicated as the source of the fires.
The liability implications are interesting. Ultimately, whether the abandoned building or the restaurant will be fixed or replaced will depend on the outcome of the Fire Marshal’s investigation and the underlying insurance policies.
Determining who is at fault and what caused the fire will determine the financial liability issues. Additionally, depending on the insurance company, the policy and the claim, any fire damage claims may be denied for a number of reasons, including:
- Accusing the family of committing arson
- Arguing that the claim form was not properly executed
- Asserting that the home and business owners have failed to meet a deadline
- Denying the actual value of the property
Unexplained fires in Fort Smith, Arkansas during the third week of July have stumped Fire Marshals who are investigating the causes of multiple fires. Without a clear indication of who is responsible, it is likely that the insurance companies will balk at paying out the claims that may be submitted.
Experienced fire insurance claims attorneys will likely be critical in ensuring that homeowners and business owners are able to successfully pursue their insurance claims.