The property owner’s house, which was inhabited and being remodeled, and contents had insurance coverage totaling more than $800,000, according to the property owner’s statement to the fire marshal’s office.
Wickham reported his camper to be worth nearly $20,000 and valued the property inside at $500,000.
Though records show an investigator with the fire marshal’s office was called to the scene and received written statements from the property owners the following week, Hall said he’s been provided no causation report or statement of the fire’s cause by the investigator.
Hall, who said he handled fire claims for a long time and has represented clients in Tarrant, Dallas, Collin and Denton counties, said he’s never seen a case where an investigator goes out to a fire but does not complete a report.
Letters from the county attorney’s office responding to Hall’s record requests note the lack of causation information.
Of the 71 pages initially provided to Hall by the fire marshal’s office, there is no investigative report that states the suspected cause of the fire, assistant county attorney Fred Barker wrote in response to the original records request. The investigator, who was on medical leave at the time of the records request, was unable to remember if he made a report or not.
“We find it hard to believe that the fire marshal’s office would fail to make a final report concerning a residential fire if it is able to do so,” Barker wrote in a follow-up letter in March, saying he assumed the investigator would provide a report at some point in the future but had no clear assurance that would occur.
Because Wickham was not there at the time and there is no available record of who is responsible for the fire, he faces a significant obstacle in any attempt to recover his losses, according to Hall.