Victims of Holyoke blaze sue property owner, management company 

  • Briana Serrano, 18, talks about her experience escaping the Holyoke fire with her boyfriend, Eric Albarran, and their 2-year-old daughter Aubrey Albarran.

  • Rubble still smolders on Monday, January 2, 2017, on the third floor of the North East Street building in Holyoke where a New Year's Day fire claimed the lives of three people.

Friday, March 31, 2017

HOLYOKE – A couple and their daughter who had to escape from a third-story window during a fatal New Year’s Day fire at their Holyoke apartment building are now suing that building’s owner, his company and the property-management company that maintained the structure.

Briana Serrano, her 2-year-old daughter Aubrey Albarran, and her boyfriend Eric Albarran were asleep when the fire broke out on the morning of Jan. 1. Serrano had to drop her daughter from a window to neighbors waiting to catch her below, before she jumped to the ground. Albarran was rescued with a ladder by firefighters minutes later.

Serrano suffered fractures to her spine and left elbow from the fall, and Albarran suffered second- and third-degree burns on his back, according to court filings. The medical bills to date are more than $95,000 for Serrano’s injuries, and more than $2,239 for Albarran, according to the documents.

The apartment was the couple’s first, and they had moved in less than 30 days before the fire that destroyed the more-than-century-old, five-story building at 106 North East St. Three residents were killed in the fire. 

The lawsuit filed in Hampden Superior Court alleges negligence on the part of Irshad Sideeka, his company Naviah Investments, LLC and the Springfield-based property management company Works Management Services, Inc.

The defendants are accused in the lawsuit of breaching their duty to maintain the property “in a reasonable and safe manner by negligently allowing a condition to exist on the premises which resulted in a fire and by failing to have adequate fire alarms and fire suppression systems in place at the property.”

Sideeka bought the building in 2011 and owns several other apartment buildings in Holyoke, according to city records.

Sideeka could not be reached at a number listed for Naviah Investments, and the Gazette was told they had the wrong number when calling several numbers listed for Works Management Services.

“Any case that I handle I always look at it as an opportunity to enforce safety rules,” said atorney John J. McQuade from the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone, who is representing the plantiffs. “By enforcing rules through monetary judgments, it makes the whole community safer.”

Sideeka received a $100, first-offense, non-criminal citation for failure to have the alarm system tested annually, according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office. 

Investigators said the communication connection between the alarm system and alarm monitoring company was broken, and as a result the building’s fire alarm system was not monitored during the fire, an investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office found.  

The fire alarm monitoring company called the property management company several times over the holiday weekend to alert them to the severed connection, according to the Fire Marshal’s Office. 

The fire took the lives of three people: Trevor Wadleigh, 34, who worked at Riff’s in Easthampton, and Maria Cartagena, 48, and Jorge Munoz, 55, a married couple who lived in the building.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.