Fire 'hero' sued for wrongful death in Bellevue condo fire

He was hailed a hero after this deadly Eastside fire. But now the family of those who died say he's to blame for their loved one's deaths.

The family of the two victims killed in the Bellevue Chimney condominiums fire wants to hold the man who police say started the fire accountable.

They filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Christo Fournarakis and his wife, along with the Chimney Homeowner's Association.

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Minna Hu, 58, and her son Steven Hu, 29, were inside their third floor condo when the fire started two floors below on October 24, 2016. They both died of smoke inhalation, trapped in their unit, both exits were blocked with flames. Hu's husband and other son were not home during the fire.

The fire investigation, released by Bellevue police, said the fire was accidental and started in the first floor unit after resident Christo Fournarakis threw marijuana smoking materials into a recycling container. A blanket and mattress caught fire and flames quickly spread throughout the building.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of the estates for the victims says Fournarakis smoked pot, threw the smoking material in a recycling bin, watched porn in a different bedroom, then took a shower.


While in the shower he smelled smoke and instead of calling 911, Fournarakis tried to put out the fire himself, the lawsuit states. It also states Fournarakis made the situation worse by pulling the burning mattress into the living room which allowed the fire to spread up both sides of the unit.

The fire consumed both stairwells so the mother and son in the third floor unit could not escape, according to the lawsuit.

According to police records, Fournararkis didn't call 911, but did knock on some doors on the first floor to warn residents. Friends of Christo Fournarakis and Olga Fadeeva started a Go Fund Me account for the couple, saying Fournararkis was a hero, and raised more than $12,000.

"The person that set the fire has made himself out to look like the 'hero of the day'. They want him to be exposed. They want him to be held accountable. They want him to understand that his actions killed two of their family members, that's what they want," said Karen Koehler, the attorney representing the victims' family.

Koehler described how Minna Hu and her son Steven were trapped in the third floor condominium. "Suddenly they start smelling smoke, not realizing they can't get out of their condo because the flames are licking up from below. They try to barricade themselves in hoping help is going to come. Help doesn't come because dufus downstairs never calls 911 and they die," said Koehler.

Fournarakis was not charged with a crime in connection with the fire. Bellevue detectives consulted with the King County Prosecutor's Office and determined "no criminal conduct had occurred."   Bellevue Police told KIRO 7 it is not a crime to fail to call 911.

KIRO-7 talked to Fournarakis on the phone on Thursday he said "no comment".

The Hu family said they want justice for their killed loved ones.

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