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Sprinkler Fluid Exploded, Dad Says

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - An apartment sprinkler system "spewed forth combustible liquid rather than water," making a small fire explode, leaving a woman and her son "profoundly and permanently injured," the woman's father says. Rescuers found the burned mother and child in critical condition, according to the complaint.

Allix Thrall, 23, and her 2-year-old son Luke were "severely burned" in the June 24 fire at Farm Gate Apartments in Herriman, Utah, according to Thrall's father, co-plaintiff Dannie Phillips.

"While plaintiffs were inside their apartment unit, a small fire activated fire sprinklers, which spewed forth combustible liquid rather than water," the complaint. states "Rather than dousing the small flame, the system caused an explosion that severely burned the mother and child."

The mother and son "suffered severe, permanent second- and third-degree burn injuries and other related injuries," Phillips said. "They are disabled and disfigured and will need medical and attendant care for the remainder of their lives."

Phillips says Harriman Apartment Associates and the other defendants "breached their duty of care by negligently building, supplying, and installing a hazardous apartment unit, comprised of a defective automatic fire extinguishing system."

He adds that after the fire, the defendants "willfully removed and disposed of plaintiffs' property, chattels, and personal effects. ... At the time of conversion [of the property], plaintiffs were current on their rent payments and were entitled to immediate possession of their property at the time defendants unjustifiably removed and disposed of it."

Phillips claims the apartment and the sprinkler installer violated the Utah Fit Premises Act by preparing and leasing premises that were "unsafe and unfit for human occupancy, as evidenced by the accelerated fire explosion from the defective system."

Defendants include Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Potter Electric Signal Co., Victaulic, Sunroc Corp., K. Bell Plumbing and Heating and Herriman Apartment Associates.

The plaintiffs, represented by Joseph W. Steele of Murray, Utah, seek punitive damages.


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