Posted by Bryan-SactoCA on August 01, 2003 at 15:33:35:

Somebody on said that you can buy smoke detectors with permanent hardwired batteries so the tenant can’t remove the battery. I’ve never seen them, but this person said you can find them at Lowe’s.


Posted by Matt (MI) on July 31, 2003 at 09:41:32:


This is a terrible story in Pontiac Michigan. Something
for everyone to think about I guess.

For those of us that are new to REI, are there any other
major areas like smoke detectors that we should be aware
of? Too bad that the landlord in this case didn’t put one

Any other areas that experienced REI are aware of where criminal charges like this can be filed against landlords?

Just wondering, if someone was leasing a property like this,
say doing a sandwich L/O - would they have gone after the orgiginal owner on this?

Terrible all around.

LANDLORD FACES CHARGES IN FIRE: Home in Pontiac became a death trap

No smoke detectors were found inside; lethal gases fatal to mother and 5 kids
July 31, 2003


The family: Guillermina Carrasco, 26, holding an unidentified child; Grecia, 7, front left; Veronica, 2, and twins Enrique and Eduardo, 4. Selena, 1, is held by her father, Francisco Valiente, 26.

Surrounded by dense black smoke, Grecia Valiente clutched her teddy bear as she stumbled out of bed and into the upstairs hallway of her Pontiac home late Tuesday.

Grecia, 7, managed only a few small steps before inhaling gases superheated to more than 800 degrees. She collapsed and died almost immediately, the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office said late Wednesday.

She shouldn’t have died, said officials who are pursuing criminal charges against the landlord in connection with the fire that decimated the child’s family in their rented home in the 600 block of North Perry.

Near Grecia, her mother, Guillermina Carrasco, 26, died of smoke inhalation trying to escape through a second-story window. She was found on a bedroom floor, clutching the hand of her youngest child, Selena, 1. Carrasco was 7 months pregnant with twins.

Four-year-old twins Eduardo and Enrique and 2-year-old Veronica also died of smoke inhalation. The children were found in their beds in adjacent rooms.

Couple dreamed of better life

COPING WITH DEATH: Another tragedy tests a city’s soul

Smoke alarm safety

City of Pontiac inspectors noted the following violations on May 2 at 602 N. Perry, where six people died Tuesday night.
The owner was given until Oct. 1 to repair them. City officials said they have no record that the repairs were made. The violations included:

Sewer backing up in the basement.

Exposed wiring in a basement wall.

Steps need a handrail.

Windows won’t stay open.

Missing caulk around a toilet and tub.

All floors and bedrooms must have a working smoke detector.

Repair all wood on window sills.
There was no certificate of occupancy for the house pending repairs and reinspection.

The notice also said:

“Warning: Damage or injury resulting from delay or failure to comply with this notice will be attributed to negligence on the part of the responsible party or parties.”

Source: City of Pontiac Community Development Department, building & safety engineering division.

The smoke carried a lethal mix of chemicals from burning foam sofa cushions.

The family’s only surviving member is Francisco Valiente, 26, father to the children and common-law husband to Guillermina. He was out – trying to borrow a car to get to work in the morning – when the fire roared through his home Tuesday night.

By early Wednesday, Pontiac Fire Chief Wilburt McAdams said not a single smoke detector could be found in the rental home.

“It is our intent to pursue this as criminal negligence on the part of the landlord,” McAdams said. “We’re still investigating, but our preliminary findings lead us to believe that this is a tragedy that should have been averted had there been smoke detectors in that house.”

Pontiac code enforcement officers inspected the two-story bungalow in May and cited landlord Bobby Dansby for several violations, including the absence of smoke detectors throughout the home. Dansby, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, did not make any repairs before moving the Valiente family into the home, McAdams said.

Dansby owns other rental properties throughout Pontiac, McAdams said, and fire investigators are working to determine whether those buildings are safe for occupancy.

The Fire Department is expected to complete its investigation by Friday and submit findings to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office for review, McAdams said.

Authorities said they believe the fire started after 9 p.m. Tuesday.

A window air-conditioning unit plugged into a power strip overheated and began to smolder, said Pontiac Fire Marshal Dan Durham. Soon the room’s carpeting and a couch pushed up against the unit began to burn.

By 10:08 p.m. the home was filled with choking black smoke and neighbors were calling 911.

Firefighters arrived within a minute, Durham said, and had the fire under control by 10:12 p.m.

It was too late.

Officials pronounced the mother and Selena dead at the scene. The other four children were taken to POH Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.

“This was a needless tragedy,” Durham said. “We believe this entire family would be alive today had there been smoke detectors in that house. It will be my mission for the rest of my career to pursue laws that allow us to require hard-wired smoke detectors in every rental property in this city.”

Tuesday’s fire is the latest in a string of blazes that has claimed multiple lives.

In July, Saul Jaime-Perez and his daughters Lucia, 15, and Jessica, 9, died when fire raced through their mobile home in Lyon Township as they slept.

A January fire in Detroit claimed the lives of six after a frying pan was left on a stove-top burner.

And five residents in a Mt. Morris Township senior citizens home died last October after a bedroom fire raced through the boarding house.

On Wednesday in Pontiac, neighbors and friends visited the brick and cedar-sided home along North Perry to build a memorial of stuffed animals, photos, flowers, balloons and candles.

Lourenzo Caldwell, 37, of Pontiac rented the North Perry home five years ago. An ice cream man, Caldwell visited the neighborhood often, making sure to stop for the Valiente children.

“They were nice kids. They were happy, bouncy, real curious,” Caldwell said. “When I heard the news that they were dead it just freaked me out. . . . I need to teach my kids what to do if there’s a fire.”

Strangers to the family also stood outside the boarded home.

Carrasco and Valiente family members living in Puebla, Mexico, were notified of the deaths Wednesday morning.

Some family members are traveling to Michigan to help with funeral arrangements that have yet to be finalized, said family attorney Diana Levy.

It’s always the landlord’s fault - Posted by rm

Posted by rm on August 02, 2003 at 08:42:52:

Particularly when the Free Press is covering it.

On another note, I attended a Dan Kennedy conference a few years ago, and he said that if you’re going to read the newspaper, you should constantly ask yourself, "How can I profit from what I just read?

In this case, I intend to include a copy of this article with all my letters to tired landlords.

Ever heard of the landlord? (nt) - Posted by Blane (MI)

Posted by Blane (MI) on August 01, 2003 at 14:26:10:


Would LLC provide any protection here? - Posted by randyOH

Posted by randyOH on August 01, 2003 at 13:33:54:

I doubt it, but I would like to get some comments.


Posted by Dave on July 31, 2003 at 15:01:52:

I also include carbon monoxide detectors in units that have gas appliances.

Same here in NYC - Posted by Frank Chin

Posted by Frank Chin on July 31, 2003 at 12:04:04:

Hi Matt:

There were a rash of such fires, and deaths in illegally converted units here in NYC, that a local law was passed making resulting deaths a criminal offense in these cases.

There’s been inquiries from time to time whether illegal units in NYC are OK, and this is one of the nasty issues.

The law does allow renting of the space for living space if there’s TWO exits.

I have such a rental with TWO exits and its currently rented to a tenant for his “home business”.

One issue I had was tenants tend to rip out the batteries in smoke detectors when they runs low, and starts chirping, so I make sure the batteries are in during maintenance inspections.

I thought of installing smoke detectors that runs off house current. The law gets nasty if there’s a death and there’s no battery in the detector.

Frank Chin


Posted by eric-fl on July 31, 2003 at 10:43:03:

FWIW, the lease I usually use has a specific section covering the location of smoke detectors in the house. At some point, I must have read that it’s one of those things you need to do, and done it, and the lease is the reminder of that. I go over it with the tenants at the same time as other maintenance items - A/C filters, water shutoff, electrical shutoff, stuff like that. I WANT my tenants to know where stuff is, and I WANT them to call me if something is signifigantly wrong on a property. My mentality is that I’d rather know about bad things sooner than later, because it almost always costs less to fix things early than late.

I think what happened here was a case of basically poor property management, which resulted in an unfortunate tragedy. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d be embarrassed to rent out a house with sewage backing up in the basement. I might miss some caulk here or a window spring there, but I overall want quality properties, because they attract quality tenants, period. I realize that some people don’t share that mentality, and make a lot of money from it. It’s just my take on it.

Re: It’s always the landlord’s fault - Posted by Irwin(ca)

Posted by Irwin(ca) on August 02, 2003 at 18:21:04:

Good idea. Very creative.
Are you concerned about the copyright?

Frank… - Posted by Izzy (NY)

Posted by Izzy (NY) on August 01, 2003 at 14:41:37:

Home Depot sells 'em.

even since I realized that tenants were removing the batteries for use in their walkie talkies, etc., I do that.

Here is an idea…

Make a smoke detector that runs off a camera or cordless phone battery. that way, the tenants wont steal it.

interesting Frank - thanks (nt) - Posted by Matt (MI)

Posted by Matt (MI) on July 31, 2003 at 12:57:37:



Posted by Matt (MI) on July 31, 2003 at 10:55:20:

Thanks Eric. I agree with your points. Maybe
seeing this will prompt a few people to double-check
the smoke detectors.
Thanks for your comments…matt