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Maravilla Resort fire result of negligent welders

GALVESTON — Welders, and an Alabama construction company that failed to supervise them, caused a massive fire and more than $10 million in damage to 78 condominiums, a lawsuit claims.

Attorney Tony Buzbee filed a lawsuit Oct. 1 on behalf of Maravilla Resort’s homeowners association, claiming Adam’s Welders of Houston failed to properly post and train a fire watch and to ensure sparks didn’t cause a fire.

Repair of Maravilla Resort, 9520 Seawall Blvd., which was damaged during Hurricane Ike’s Sept. 13, 2008, landfall, was nearly complete before the June 3 blaze.

The job, however, was properly permitted and didn’t require a fire watch from the fire department, Fire Marshal Gilbert Robinson, who ruled the blaze an accident, said.

Hudak and Dawson Construction of Gadsden, Ala., also is named in the lawsuit. The company told the homeowners association it would bring from Alabama highly skilled laborers rather than use untrained transient or local workers to refurbish the 178-unit complex, the lawsuit claims.

Hudak and Dawson made those representations, knowing them to be false, the lawsuit claims.

Phone messages left Tuesday and Wednesday and an e-mail seeking comment from Hudak and Dawson weren’t acknowledged. There was no public phone listing for Adam’s Welders.

The lawsuit requests a jury trial and doesn’t list the amount of damages sought.

The city doesn’t have the manpower to impose fire watches on every welding job, Robinson said. The decision to require a fire watch by a Galveston firefighter is made on a case-by-case basis, Robinson said.

“It depends on the job,” Robinson said. “When welding around non-combustibles, that’s fine.”

Welders were working on handrails connected to the complex when the fire started, the lawsuit claims.

The thick, black smoke was visible for miles. Only five tenants were displaced by the fire, as most of the units were rentals, Buzbee said.

 

By Chris Paschenko
Galveston Daily News
October 8, 2009