Insurer sues 2 men for $3.2 million over fatal fire at Charles Towers; Feb. 5, 1999, blaze blamed on discarded cigarette


A $3.2 million lawsuit has been filed against two men who allegedly lived in the Charles Towers apartment where a fire began last year that killed one person and trapped dozens of others on the upper floors.

New Jersey-based North River Insurance Co., which insured the building, claimed negligence in the suit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Maryland against Charles J. Mannix, of 58 Crestline Road in Wayne, Pa., and Christopher Mannix, of 222 N. Charles St.

Fire officials blamed the blaze on a discarded cigarette that ignited a couch in Apartment 1501.

Efforts to reach the men for comment were unsuccessful, and their relationship was unclear.

Robert A. Stutman, lead attorney for the insurance company, declined yesterday to answer questions about the lawsuit.

The fire started about 1: 30 a.m. on the 15th floor of the 30-story building. Some firefighters had to climb 15 flights of stairs while lugging heavy gear. About 170 firefighters spent nearly two hours extinguishing the blaze.

Johncie Alberta Montgomery, 72, who lived with her daughter, Janet Montgomery, on the 25th floor, died in the fire.

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