LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The family of a Las Vegas woman who was killed in an apartment fire is now suing the complex claiming apartment ownership knew the buildings were prone to fires and failed to adequately maintain the complex.
The lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court makes a number of claims and seeks damages in excess of $15,000 for the death of 26-year-old Myriam Hernandez Estrada.
Hernandez Estrada was living at the Solaire Apartment complex near Karen Avenue and Maryland Parkway when the fire erupted on a hot August day last year.
"In fact, she had just came home from church that Sunday and was in her apartment relaxing when the fire broke out," said Attorney Joe Benson, who is representing the family.
According to the family, Myriam was an eternal optimist who was ready to take on the world.
Myriam was studying French and finances with dreams to travel abroad.
Authorities say Myriam was killed when she went back into her burning apartment to save her Chihuahua.
"The roof collapsed, and we know she was at the top of the building and the cause of death was primarily thermal injuries and secondary to that was carbon monoxide poisoning," explained Benson.
Benson said based on the investigation, he questions whether the air conditioning unit on the apartments roof played a role in the fire and roof collapse.
"With respect to apartments in this town, sometimes it takes something drastic and that's what I think we have in this case," said Benson.
Benson points to the Las Vegas Hilton, and MGM Grand Fires in the 1980s which forced sweeping changes to fire codes nationwide.
"To prove a negligence claim, you have to have notice," said Benson.
"They have a duty and they breached that duty," added Benson.
"And in this case, you are on notice of priors and depending on what we find out in this investigation, it could be recklessness," explained Benson.
The family of Hernandez Estrada are heart broken at her loss and want to make sure changes are made as a result of the fire.
"It hurts to see my parents, every time I go see them, I talk with them on the phone, I'm still waiting for my sister to show up and that's not going to happen anymore," said Cendy Hernandez.
The apartment complex ownership released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
Solaire Apartments disputes that any wrongdoing or negligence occurred on its part. Solaire Apartments is committed to providing clean, safe, and stable living environments to working families. Solaire Apartments, its employees, and the entire Solaire community were impacted by these events, and Solaire offers its deepest condolences to the Hernandez-Estrada family and those who were affected by the incident. Due to pending investigations and litigation, Solaire Apartments is unable to make any further statement at this time.