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December 29, 2007

Fire Guts Under-Construction Condo Complex

Filed under: Builders,Developers,New Construction — sunnydayz @ 8:50 am

Investigators are trying to determine what sparked a fire that caused $1.5 million worth of damage and destroyed a dozen condominiums under construction in the Midway District of San Diego early Wednesday morning.

The fire, which broke out shortly after midnight required about a fourth of the city’s firefighting resources to extinguish it.Firefighters found the buildings engulfed in flames shortly after midnight. They quickly called for help, sounding a second and then a third alarm. The crews had a fire extinguished around 1:15 a.m.

By Wednesday morning, investigators with the Metro Arson Strike Team, as well as FBI investigators, had determined the blaze started on the third floor of a middle unit in the complex and spread to surrounding units, said fire department spokesman Maurice Luque. “They’ve ruled out any electrical problems or connections, and ruled out any plumbing work” as a cause, Luque said. The first two floors were completed and the third floor was being framed.

Damage to the buildings under construction was estimated at $1 million. Fire and heat damage to the exteriors of some completed units north of the fire and a nearby medical center accounted for about $500,000 worth of damage, Luque said.

Let’s say, for arguments sake, we hired Jack Bauer to investigate this (he’s on Sabbatical now since the 6th day is finally over). How would he approach this delicate situation?With the housing market feeding the fire of competition between newer communities, who would he question first?The home owner living on level 2, who felt they over paid due to lower asking prices of the remaining units to be sold, or the executives that are under fire by the bank to sell their remaining units? It’s a toss-up.

In my opinion, I find it extremely ironic that a potentially arsenal related fire occurs just days after we have discussed the different challenges builders/developers are facing with remaining inventory and outstanding finances.Is this another sign of a builder hitting bottom?I hope not, but what if after investigations are complete, it does trace back to the higher-executives? Jack Bauer – were he at my disposal in this investigation – would have a field day – don’t you think?!Does proven arson null and void any type of fire insurance?And even if it was still in effect, would fire-insurance cover all of the contractors that have dumped thousands into an almost completed condo building?Depending on the outcome, it’s a chain effect that could quite possibly take multiple companies/business owners to bankruptcy.

****Information provided by

San Diego Union Tribune.(Minus last 2 paragraphs)

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