HUNTINGTON -– A former resident of an apartment building that caught on fire and killed nine people just over two years ago has filed suit against the owners of the building, alleging his personal belongings were destroyed during the fire.

Joshua D. Harshbarger alleges he lost personal property after his apartment, along with the rest of the apartments in the Emmons Jr. apartment building in the 1200 block of Third Avenue, caught on fire on Jan. 13, 2007.

Because of the fire, Harshbarger experienced annoyance, inconvenience, emotional pain and suffering, according to the complaint filed Jan. 9 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Harshbarger claims Woodlark Enterprises –- the owners of the property –- owed him and other tenants the duty to provide a safe building.

It also had a duty to provide a building for rental in compliance with applicable federal, state and local safety code, to provide a building with proper construction and protection in place to protect the spread of a fire and to take reasonable and responsible action to protect the lives and property of tenants in the building, according to the complaint.

Woodlark Enterprises had a duty to warn tenants of the dangers and hazardous conditions of the building, to construct a proper fire suppression system, to comply with existing building and safety regulations, to install proper and safe alarm and warning devices and to inspect the building to identify all dangers to life and to the safety of the tenants inside it, the suit states.

It breached expressed and implied warranties it made to Harshbarger that his apartment would be safe, Harshbarger alleges.

Alex Vence, Jr. –- the manager of the property -– owed duties to Harshbarger including managing the building so as to provide a safe building for tenants, keeping the building free from dangers and hazards that include, fire, warning tenants and all on the premises of the dangers of the building and inspecting the building to identify all dangers to life, safety and property, according to the complaint.

In the three-count suit, Harshbarger is seeking a judgment for unspecified compensatory damages in excess of the jurisdictional limits of Cabell Circuit Court.

Eric S. Embree and J. Robert Leslie of Tyree, Embree and Leslie in Hurricane will be representing him.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 09-C-0024

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