DC Sued for $300 Million Over Fire Deaths

The District of Columbia and DC Fire and EMS Department are facing two lawsuits totaling $300 Million, filed by the families of two people killed in a rowhouse fire in 2019. Fitsum Kebede, 40, and Yafet Solomen, 9, died in the fire on August 18, 2019.

The suits allege the city violated the deceaseds’ civil rights by failing to follow up on code violations and failing to properly train its inspectors. The suits also name two members of DC Fire & EMS and several other city employees.

The building at 708 Kennedy St. NW had reportedly been illegally converted into an “unlicensed rooming house.” James Walker, who was the landlord for the building that burned, has been charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and 41 criminal fire and housing code violations. He is named as a defendant in both of the civil suits.

The suits were filed in Superior Court for the District of Columbia on August 13 and 17, 2021. As of the moment, the complaints are not available, but will be posted here if the become available. More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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