THOUSAND OAKS : Fireplace Owners to be Paid for Repairs

Residents in two Thousand Oaks housing tracts where dangerous fireplaces have been installed will soon be compensated for repairs on their faulty hearths, city officials said Friday.

Barry J. Branagan, the city's director of building and safety, said Thousand Oaks is nearing agreement with the insurance companies of an Agoura Hills fireplace framer. The city has accused the framer of placing potentially combustible wood around the fireplaces instead of bricks and mortar.

Branagan said the city hopes to announce the details of the agreement next week.

A group of Thousand Oaks residents, claiming that local building inspectors failed to warn them 10 years ago about the dangerous fireplaces, is threatening to take the city to court unless the homeowners are compensated.

As result, the city has been attempting to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company of the fireplace framer on behalf of the 200 residents in two housing developments in the Newbury Park and Wildwood areas.

Perry Angress, who owns a home with a faulty fireplace, said he questions whether the city is near an agreement with the insurance company.

"That's what they said last week and the week before," Angress said. "I don't want to be negative, but actions speak louder than words."

The claims are a prerequisite to a class-action lawsuit, which would be filed in Ventura Municipal Court if negotiations between the city and the insurance company fail, Angress said.

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