Renters sue landlord over fire deaths

Kelly Holleran Aug. 4, 2010, 3:43am

In a recently filed lawsuit, a woman blames her landlords for the deaths of her son and granddaughter in a fire at a residence the woman rented.

Cynthia Gentry and her son, John Lyons, filed a lawsuit July 21 in Madison County Circuit Court against Blake and Burkette Fickel.

Gentry claims she rented a home at 710 Henry St. in Jersey County from the Fickels, who are Madison County residents, when the house caught fire on June 4.

During the blaze, Gentry's son, Jason Holyfield, and her granddaughter, Kelsey Lyons, died, according to the complaint. Co-plaintiff John Lyons lost his daughter, Kelsey Lyons, in the fire, the suit states.

Because of the deaths, Gentry and John Lyons have been deprived of their relatives' money, goods, services, love and companionship, the complaint says.

Gentry accuses the Fickels of numerous acts of negligence, which she says led to the deadly inferno. For example, the Fickels allegedly failed to properly inspect a defective air conditioner, failed to install all necessary smoke alarms and failed to provide suitable smoke alarms in a kitchen, the suit states. In addition, they allegedly failed to exercise reasonable care to avoid Holyfield's and Kelsey Lyons' deaths, the complaint says.

In their six-count complaint, Gentry and John Lyons seek a judgment of more than $600,000, plus costs.

Lanny Darr of Schrempf, Kelly, Napp and Darr in Alton will be representing them.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-759.

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