On March 15, 2011, I was leaving the gym when I got a phone call from my boyfriend at the time telling me to go to my parents house, not to my condo. He told me there was a fire at my condo. I didnt listen and drove to the condo. When I entered the apartment complex I saw fire trucks and police cars. It was so scary. I told a police officer that it was my condo that started the fire and he brought me over to look at it. It looked really bad and smelled terrible. I was devastated. Then I saw Matt, my boyfriend at the time, and he was crying. This made me feel even worse. He felt so bad. I answered a few questions that the police and fire men asked, grabbed a few necessities from the condo, and went to my parents to stay. Little did I know that almost a year later I would still be living with my parents because of the negligence of McGill Management in fulfilling their duties.
The fire started from a pan of candle wax on the stovetop. I had this big three wick candle from Wal-Mart that had cracked and was leaking all over my coffee table. Rather than get rid of it, I put the wax into a cake pan and would occasionally turn the burner on low to melt the wax in the pan and it would make the condo smell great. Matt said he didnt purposely turn that burner on when it lit on fire. He had just cooked some food so he thinks he might have accidently flicked the burner on when he was cleaning up after he made his food. Still, I purposely turner that burner on all of the time and never would have imagined candle wax starting on fire. Candle wax is supposed to get hot, right? Anyways, he went to the bathroom and while he was in there, he noticed a smoky smell and then heard the smoke alarm go off. He went into the kitchen and saw that the pan was on fire. At this point, it was fairly contained. There was a fire extinguisher in the common hallway so he went in there and got that. When he tried to use it, it didnt work. At this point, he started freaking out because it was getting worse. He went around asking neighbors for a fire extinguisher but couldnt find one. I believe at this point he decided to try to get the pan out of the condo. He put some cooking gloves on and tried to turn the burner off, but the knob had melted so he couldnt. He then picked up the flaming pan and carried it out. On the way, some wax dripped out onto his shoes and on the gloves. He didnt notice this when it happened, he noticed it later when he saw the burns. He threw the pan on the ground and the fire went out almost immediately. He turned around to see that the fire was still going, the stove had lit on fire, and the electricity had gone out. He yelled to neighbors for a fire extinguisher and finally got one from a woman in a nearby condo. He held his breath and went into the condo and put the fire out.
Per the firemans suggestion, I called my insurance company that night and told them what happened. I took off work the next day and met my insurance representative at the condo along with a cleaning company he recommended. They seemed very helpful so I was very relieved. After that, I stayed away from my condo for several weeks. The cleaning company was doing their thing so I just stayed away. I was pretty upset to see that they had primed all of the walls throughout my condo without asking me if that was okay. I thought they were just cleaning, so this was upsetting to see. Not the point of this message, but I was upset about it regardless.
I was told by my insurance agent that there were certain things in the condo that were the responsibility of the condo association, McGill Management to fix. He said that the cabinets, range hood and countertops were all their responsibility. He gave me the name of a woman at Travelers Insurance (Mary Sheetz) who was the insurance representative for my McGill Management. I tried for months to get a hold of her with no success. I eventually decided to call the main Travelers Insurance number and was told that the condo association didnt have insurance through them. I was so confused so I contacted my insurance agent and asked him what to do. He gave me the number of someone else to call at Travelers. She directed me to John Swenson. Apparently Mary Sheetz no longer worked for Travelers so that was why I was having such a hard time getting a hold of her. John told me that they had assessed the damage at $1888.78. With their $1000 deductible, they paid the condo association $888.78. This was paid to Glenda Sorenson, the community manager. He gave me Glendas number so I started calling her with no response. After several weeks of leaving messages and not hearing back, I decided to contact someone else at McGill Management for help. I got in contact with Laura Martyniuk who kept telling me that she was looking into it and would let me know. After several weeks of this response, she eventually told me that my request had been denied. I was so confused. They had already received the money for damages to my condo; I didnt understand how they could decide to keep that money. So I asked for the contact information of her manager. She gave it to me and I sent a long letter to her. She responded with the name of the condo associations lawyer who she said would get back to me about it. I exchanged several emails with this lawyer, but he finally responded and said my request had been denied. Again, I was so confused. They had been given money from their insurance to fix my cabinets, countertops and range hood and they were choosing not to use it for this purpose? To me that seems very wrong. I feel like Im not asking for too much here. Especially considering it was their fault the fire got to be so bad. Had the fire extinguisher in the hallway worked, the fire would have been much more contained and the damage would have been very minor. Matt had terrible burns from the candle wax dripping on his hands and feet and has permanent scars now. I have pictures showing how badly he was burned. Again, I dont think that asking for the condo association to pay for the damages they are responsible for is asking for too much. I think many people would have asked for much more considering their complete negligence in the situation. Since they have chosen to keep the money they were given that was intended for fixing my cabinets, countertops and range hood, I feel like I have no choice but to escalate this matter.