Res­cu­ing Ridge­crest Ter­race

Fire­fighter dies at com­plex city twice tried to close

The Dallas Morning News - - ELECTIONS ’ 12 -

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-

Me­mo­rial ser­vices

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.

The Dal­las

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.

pre­vi­ous com­men­tary on bridg­ing Dal­las’ north-south gap.

dal­las­news. com/ opin­ion/ north-south-dal­las-pro­ject

the con­ver­sa­tion at

gap­blog. dal­las­news. com

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