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Insurance Agency Sues on Behalf of Victims of Local Fire

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Balch Springs Fire | Image by WFAA

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An insurance agency is suing the Plano-based investment company that owned the vacant grass lot where a fire started that damaged 27 homes, destroying nine completely in Balch Springs on July 26.

State Farm Lloyds is suing Sikka Investments on behalf of three individuals — Edgar Cruz, Mario Thompson, and Miguel Quinonez —  whose properties were damaged or destroyed by the fire to the point they were uninhabitable, claims the lawsuit.

The agency is asking the owners of the vacant lot to pay more than $1 million for damages incurred by the destructive fire.

Sikka Investments had previously received two code compliance warnings and a court summons from Balch Springs over grass that had grown past code standards there.

Residents have said they complained to the city multiple times about the overgrowth and height of the grass.

The investment company finally hired mowers to cut the grass on the day of the fire amid a notably dry summer. The fire started when a mower blade sparked against a sharp object and ignited the field, according to authorities.

“And once ignited, there’s just a whole lot of material to burn at that point,” Balch Springs Fire Marshal Sean Davis suggested previously.

At the time of the fire, authorities estimated total property damage exceeded $6 million.

The three homeowners participating in the suit lived on Broadview and Elm Point drives in the Spring Ridge subdivision, the neighborhood adjacent to the lot where the fire started.

The lawsuit argues, “The fire at issue started because the property owned by Defendant Sikka was improperly maintained and mowed in an unsafe manner and/or when conditions made undertaking such an activity unsafe.”

The suit states that the three plaintiffs represented by State Farm Lloyds suffered not only damage to their property but also incurred living expense damages.

State Farm Lloyds compensated the three for the covered damages to their properties but brought this suit forward to recover the additional costs the plaintiffs incurred from Sikka Investments.

State Farm Lloyds’ attorney, Doug Heuvel, said he expects more plaintiffs to join the lawsuit eventually.

Sikka Investments has so far not responded to requests for comment.

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