Decatur Fire Victims Retain Huntsville Attorney as Investigation Continues
DECATUR, AL (WZDX) - Families who live in an apartment unit claim none of the building's smoke detectors went off during the fire that killed two young children last week, according to a Huntsville attorney.
Attorney Gary Conchin said Tuesday the families, including family members of Mar'Lena Miland, 4, and Dexter Miland Jr., 2, became concerned when they discovered evidence was taken out of the building by someone other than city investigators. Conchin said he is waiting for investigators to determine the fire's cause before moving forward.
Mar'Lena and Dexter were killed March 27 in a fire at West Ridge Apartments. Their parents and an 8-year-old sibling made it out of the building.
Attorney Barney Lovelace said the building's owner, Triad Funding Corp., hired private fire investigators to take samples from the building, including smoke detectors and electrical outlets from the bedroom where the fire started. Lovelace said the samples were removed with local and state fire marshal approval.
Lovelace said the evidence will be tested and preserved, and also will be shared with the family's attorney and their experts.
The smoke detectors in the building were wired into the electrical system so they constantly had power, according to Decatur Fire Marshal Jason Jones. In the event power failed, the detectors had batteries as a backup. Jones said he could not comment on whether they were working at the time of the fire. He also said the city does not have the capability to test any electrical systems.
Triad Funding Corp. bought West Ridge Apartments in summer 2012, according to Lovelace.
Wally Terry, head of Decatur's Building Department, said the city has no record of code violations at the building.