THOUSAND OAKS : $100,000 to Be Paid to Repair 200 Fireplaces

The Thousand Oaks City Council has decided to distribute $100,000 to about 200 families in two housing tracts who complained that their fireplaces were constructed dangerously.

According to a plan adopted unanimously Tuesday night, the city staff will set up a fund and distribute the money to homeowners in the Newbury Park and Wildwood areas after the fireplaces are fixed.

Last month, the insurance carriers of the companies that developed the tracts and built the fireplaces agreed to reimburse the homeowners for repairs. The now-defunct Roger Boyer Development Co. of Encino built the tracts. The fireplaces, which city officials said were framed with wood instead of bricks and mortar, were constructed by William L. Chapman of Agoura Hills.

A group of residents, claiming that city building inspectors failed to warn them 10 years ago about the dangerous fireplaces, threatened to sue the city and the insurance companies unless the homeowners were compensated for repairs, which cost about $350 each.

According to city records, at least one city official knew about the fireplace danger after a house caught fire in 1980 but failed to warn other residents. Another fireplace-related blaze erupted in 1988.

Under pressure from the residents, the city agreed to negotiate a settlement with the insurance companies.

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