On a Sunday evening in September of 2019, a mobile home in unincorporated Greenville burst into flames. The fire had consumed the entire structure by the time firefighters arrived to rescue the two residents inside. One of those residents, a 64-year-old woman, died in the hospital from her injuries. The other was last reported to be in critical condition.
Police are still investigating the exact cause of the blaze, but officers on the scene stated that it did not appear to be connected with any criminal activity. Upon later inspection, police were able to confirm that the ignition had been explosive in nature.
While more information is still needed about this particular case, most household explosions are gas-based. Eliminating criminal causes, including arson and drug manufacture, gas explosions are left as an even more overwhelming majority. It’s probable that this woman and her unidentified family member were victims of faulty, deteriorated, or improperly installed gas equipment.
Gas Explosions in Mobile Homes Are Tragically Common
According to a 2004 study by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), residents of mobile homes are twice as likely to die by fire than residents of other types of housing.
In fact, less than a week before the explosion in Greenville, a 12-year-old girl was killed in a mobile home fire in Texas, in another town also coincidentally named Greenville. Six months earlier, a mobile home exploded due to a propane leak in Colorado, and the month before that, another one exploded in Iowa due to a natural gas leak.
Propane and natural gas are both common choices for household heat and power in mobile homes, and both can be deadly if lines and tanks are not properly maintained. Unfortunately, residents of mobile homes are often at an economic disadvantage and have limited options for where to turn when their appliances aren’t working properly. This can make them especially easy for gas and real estate companies to neglect and endanger.
Landlords and Gas Companies Have a Duty to Keep Residents Safe
Responsibility for mobile home repairs can be a sticky issue, because many residents own their homes while renting the land beneath them. In simple terms, however, a landlord is responsible for keeping everything not owned by the tenant in safe, habitable condition. This includes utility lines up to the point of hookup. In parks where the landlord also owns the mobile homes themselves, this maintenance responsibility extends inside the units as well.
In all cases, gas companies have a responsibility to make sure any installations and repairs they perform are done safely and correctly. They must also warn residents of the dangers of their products and educate them on safe use. When either landlord or gas company fails to live up to these responsibilities, tragedies like the death of the woman in Greenville are the result.
The Stoddard Firm Specializes in Landlord and Utility Liability
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to a mobile home fire, The Stoddard Firm can help. We’re experts in the duties of landlords and utility companies, and we’ll get to the bottom of who allowed the fire to happen and how. For a free consultation, call us at 678-RESULT, or reach out through our 24/7 online chat function.