Past Safety Issues at Scene of Firefighter Death - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Past Safety Issues at Scene of Firefighter Death



    The Dallas apartment complex where a firefighter died has a history of "numerous and persistent" code violations, city officials said Monday.

    Lt. Todd Krodle fell through a second story roof of the Ridgecrest Terrace Apartments on Walton Walker Boulevard near Keeneland Parkway on Sunday. He fell as he tried to approach a fire that started in a ground-floor unit, Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman said.

    It took time for firefighters to rescue him from the burning unit below, and he was later pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

    Family and friends said Krodle was a devoted family man.

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    The blaze was one of two fires at the complex Sunday that were both blamed on electrical problems, residents said.

    Tenants and outreach workers who helped residents with landlord complaints said better attention to ongoing maintenance problems could have prevented the fires and the roof accident.

    Residents of both apartments that burned Sunday said they complained to the landlord about electrical problems before.

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    Kalanda Henderson was not home when the fire Krodle was fighting broke out in her apartment at about 4 p.m.

    She counted her blessings as she sat outside the complex Monday.

    "They were telling me that my house was on fire, and then I think of the phone call that his family would receive saying that he passed away, so my loss is nothing compared to their loss," she said.

    A fire department statement Sunday night said the cause of her fire was an electrical malfunction.

    The first fire at the complex Sunday broke out at about 4 a.m. in another apartment, where Tony Derrough lived with his 2-year-old son.

    "My son woke me up crying and choking me," he said. "He's really the one who saved both our lives."

    He said he had told the landlord about problems with his electric stove. Firefighters told him the stove started the blaze, he said.

    Kenneth and Ruth Snowden of Fruit of the Spirit Outreach Ministry said they had been working to help Derrough move to a new home.

    "He's been waiting to relocate and, unfortunately, this mishap has forced him to relocate," Ruth Snowden said.

    "It seems as though they were short-cutting how they were conducting some of the maintenance, routine maintenance on this property," Kenneth Snowden said. "The wiring was an issue that could have easily been addressed, and it's sad that the fireman had to loose his life."

    Problems with the roof are among the concerns noted in city inspection records as recently as August 2010.

    The city filed lawsuits in 2004 and 2008 against a prior owner of the property for code violations.

    A February 2009 aerial photo of the property available at the Dallas County Appraisal District website shows a dozen blue tarps on roofs of the property, evidently to cover leaks.

    The 2008 lawsuit was settled in 2009 and a January 2010 city inspection found problems had been corrected.

    But an August 2010 inspection found numerous problems again, including the roof issues on several buildings.

    At that point, the property was sent to the city's SAFE team for more intense inspections.

    The SAFE team includes police officers, fire inspectors and code enforcement officers who review crime prevention and code enforcement issues.

    DCAD records show the property was transferred to a new owner in September 2010, Potomac Realty Capital in Boston.

    Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Sipes said the new owners have been cooperating with the city and a May 2011 inspection found that problems had been corrected.

    Residents said they had complained to the landlord but not to the city about their recent electrical complaints.

    Roof defects were obvious from the ground at other parts of the complex Monday.

    "It doesn't matter if they are low-income apartments or not," Kenneth Snowden said. "It's just the humanity of renting a place that would be safe."

    A woman answering the phone at Potomac Realty Capital in Boston said the company has no comment and would issue no statement.

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