YORK, Pa. — The family of two York City firefighters who died in 2018 after the Weaver Organ & Piano Co. factory building collapsed have sued the building's owner and the foreman and superintendents of the construction project working to convert it into apartments, claiming that the conditions at the construction site increased the risk of fire.
Firefighters Ivan Flanscha and Zachary Anthony died when part of the building collapsed, one day after a three-alarm fire at the site. They were part of a group of firefighters working to extinguish hot spots at the building.
Two other firefighters were injured in the collapse, but survived.
On Thursday, Casey Flanscha, wife of Ivan Flanscha, and Karen Anthony, the mother of Zachary Anthony, filed a lawsuit in the York County Court of Common Pleas against Matt Steinkamp, the building's owner, general contractor, manager and operator of the construction project.
Steinkamp's companies, Weaver Warehouse LLC, Weaver Warehouse Master Tenant LLC, and Steinkamp Construction LLC are also named as defendants in the lawsuit, along with Anthony Caldwell and Paul Caldwell, the foreman and superintendent of the project.
The lawsuit says materials on the first floor of the 53,000-square-foot building created a "large, concentrated fuel load," creating conditions where a fire could "originate and then burn quickly out of control."
According to the lawsuit, when the March 21, 2018 fire broke out at the building, located on North Broad Street in York, there were "large amounts of combustibles" like stacks of lumber, piles of older wood, plywood stored on the first floor, along with "about 100 gallons of polyurethane, diesel, kerosene, and gasoline."
The materials were not stored safely or contained, creating "an unreasonable risk of fire initiation and fire spread," the lawsuit claims.
There were also multiple heaters on the first floor that used kerosene and burned with open flame, the lawsuit says. The building's electrical system was also old and constantly malfunctioning, according to the lawsuit.
Prior to the fire, polyurethane had been poured on the ground on the fourth floor, some of which dripped through cracks and holes to the first floor, the lawsuit says. There was also a large amount of sawdust on the first floor due to carpentry work in the construction project, the lawsuit claims.
The building's sprinkler system was not operational, nor was there a working fire suppression or alarm system, the lawsuit says. The project also did not have a fire safety or prevention plan, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit contains causes of actions including negligence and wrongful death, and seeks damages in excess of $50,000.