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Family sues architects in 2013 Aloha fire death of man, son

Representatives of a 34-year-old Intel analog engineer who died from injuries suffered in a May 2013 Aloha townhouse fire are suing Portland’s Otak Architects, claiming the firm's house design blocked residents who were trying to escape the burning building.

Potter Fiduciary Services of Portland is asking a Multnomah County judge to award the family of Gang Huo $6.59 million in damages for the death of both Gang Huo and his 11-year-old son, Tengyuan Huo, after they suffered smoke inhalation in the fire that destroyed their house on Southwest Jaden Drive.

Damages include $7,614 for funeral expenses, $88,529 for medical costs and $6 million for the loss of future income.

On Thursday, Otak Chief Executive Officer James Hamann provided a statement about the lawsuit: "We were saddened to learn of Mr. Huo’s and his son’s death in this tragic accident. While our hearts go out to the Huo family, we are proud to work with so many talented professionals, and we firmly believe that Otak’s work on the townhouse was consistent with the high level of skill and professionalism that Otak strives to provide to each of its clients."

No court date has been set for the case.

No early warning

Gang Huo died May 27, 2013, at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, four days after he was seriously injured in the fire. Tengyuan Huo died in the same hospital 10 days after he was injured in the fire.

Huo’s wife and Tengyuan’s mother, 40-year-old Jia Zeng, was rescued from a third-floor window and survived the fire. She was treated for injuries and released from Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

The fire erupted during the early morning hours in the home’s garage and spread to the rest of the dwelling. Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue crews found Tengyuan Huo in a second-floor hallway. They found Gang Huo on the third floor.

The Huos’ three-bedroom, 1,251-square-foot townhouse was built in 2007. According to the three-page complaint filed Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Potter Fiduciary claims Otak designed the house “that was unsafe from fire hazards in that the sole means of egress was not adequately protected from a fire in the garage.”

The lawsuit also claims that the house was not designed with a sprinkler system, and it did not have a fire alarm sensor in the garage to provide early warning for the family.

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