Jury finds city of Centralia not at fault for 2012 house fire
CENTRALIA – A Boone County jury found on Tuesday that the City of Centralia was not responsible for a house fire that occurred in August 2012.
The homeowners sued the city for negligence after a fire broke out on their property because a city-owned electrical line fell and set fire to dry grass. No one was injured in the fire but the residence sustained extensive damage.
In the suit, the homeowners said the city failed to properly inspect and maintain the service line. After hearing evidence and arguments of both parties, the jury found in favor of the city, awarding no damages to the homeowners.
“While this was a victory for the city because the jury decided that the city did their job and was not negligent, the result is that the plaintiffs in the case, three sisters, that are former Centralia residents, are left with a house and personal property destroyed by fire,” said City Administrator Matt Harline.
Harline notes that the city does offer some help to house fire victims. The city sets an agreement to qualified property owners to reimburse $1,500 for demolition expenses or $3,000 for demolition and rebuilding expense. The three sisters would qualify for the aid.
Harline also adds that the city’s electric department is dedicated to ensuring they meet and exceed national safety standards. He said the electrical department received two citizen surveys with a favorable rating from over 93 percent of respondents.