Rescuing Ridgecrest Terrace
Firefighter dies at complex city twice tried to close
The nadir for the Ridgecrest Terrace apartments, a drab complex of subsidized housing in Oak Cliff, may have been reached during an 18-month period when the city was suing the then-owners for code violations and failure to make repairs. At one point, blue tarps covered holes in the roofs of some buildings. There were water leaks, sewage spills, rotting sub-floors and electrical problems.
The suit was settled in 2009, and the repairs, at least the more serious ones, were presumably made. Then the owners defaulted and the bank took over. Now there’s a new owner. Inspectors and owners came and went, and the only constant for Ridgecrest’s residents was the challenge of living there.
On Sunday, Ridgecrest Terrace was in the news again, this time the site of a fire that claimed the life of an 18-year Dallas Fire-Rescue veteran. Lt. Todd W. Krodle, 41, was trying to punch a ventilation hole when the roof collapsed. Officials said a malfunctioning appliance plugged into a surge protector may have been at fault, though the investigation is continuing. A second and apparently unrelated fire in another apartment Sunday was also attributed to an electrical problem.
The tragic death of Krodle reminds us again of the dangers inherent in fighting fires. The life of this professional ended in a flash, while working the kind of blaze he would have encountered many times. He leaves behind a wife, two young children, a department in mourning and a grateful city. His col-
for Lt. Todd W. Krodle will be held Friday. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p. m. Thursday at Highland Terrace Baptist Church in Greenville, followed by a funeral service at the church at 10 a. m. Friday. Burial will be in Memoryland Memorial Park.
leagues don’t need to be told that there is no such thing as a routine fire. They know the risks and take them on — for the safety of us all — every time the alarm sounds.
But that this tragedy happened at Ridgecrest deserves more scrutiny. It is unsettling, to say the least, that two fires blamed on electrical problems occurred at a complex where faulty wiring has been an issue. After the fire, one tenant told this newspaper that her outlet sparks whenever she plugs something in. Is it a far leap to wonder whether a faulty appliance might have been compromised by a faulty electrical system?
Ridgecrest was built in 1969 but is probably far older than its years. Chronic problems and the hard living associated with subsidized housing have clearly taken a toll. The complex passed its most recent inspection, in 2010. Because of its troubled history, it is also being monitored by the city so nuisances are addressed and violations corrected. But that should not be taken as a sign that all is OK, certainly not in light of what happened Sunday. If city and federal housing inspectors are not already performing a more comprehensive inspection of the premises, including its electrical system, they should be.
Fire Fighters Association has set up an account for Krodle’s wife and two children at City Credit Union, 7474 Ferguson Road in Dallas. Donors should refer to the Fallen Fire Fighters Account, No. 1502500-03.
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