A memorial sign is posted on a chain link fence outside the burned mobile home where Ron Richardson was killed in a fire last April at Trails End Mobile Home Park in Fresno, on Monday, June 28, 2021. The City of Fresno sent a team of code enforcement officers along with investigators from the police and fire departments to conduct an inspection of the park on Monday. Credit: Craig Kohlruss / The Fresno Bee

The family of the man who was killed in an April 2021 fire at the Trails End Mobile Home Park in Fresno has filed a lawsuit against the state, local agencies and the park’s property owners.

Ronald Richardson died April 29, 2021 in a fire that resulted from a running generator being filled at the rundown mobile home park, according to the Fresno Fire Department. The lawsuit contends that Richardson was visiting the park with his friend Susan Dahlstrom when the fire sparked and had run back inside the burning trailer multiple times to save people.

Two trailers were destroyed in the fire, including the one from which Richardson rescued people.

The complaint, filed Jan. 27, alleges wrongful death, negligence, premises liability and a survivor claim as reasons to take action against the city, county, state and the property owner. The plaintiffs include Richardson’s parents and son, as well as Dahlstrom, who had been trapped in the fire, the complaint says.

“We’re looking for answers to figure out what happened and why no one took any action on this,” said Shane Hapuarachy, a lawyer with Jacoby and Meyers who is representing the family. “We hope that these types of lawsuits prevent these types of tragedies from happening to somebody else.”

The victim’s mother, Sharon Richardson, said her only child was “full of life,” had a love for music, motorcycles and being with family and friends and was loved by many.

“I’ve never gone this long without hearing his voice,” she said. “I miss the kindness in his heart.”

The lawsuit was filed against the city of Fresno, County of Fresno, owner of the Trails End property and the California Department of Housing and Urban Development, which, at the time of the fire, was responsible for the code enforcement of the mobile home park and had forbidden the park owners from collecting rent due to complaints about unresolved health and safety issues, dating back to 2019.

Sharon Richardson said she hopes the lawsuit will hold those who could have intervened in the conditions of the mobile home park accountable.

“I can’t get my son back no matter what happens,” Sharon Richardson said. “But I want someone to be responsible for this.”

What’s happened at the Trails’ End Mobile Home Park since

The April 29 fire at Trails End was neither the first nor the last at the mobile home park in recent years. Six weeks after Richardson was killed, another fire broke out, destroying three mobile homes and damaging another.

According to city officials, the city had been unaware that the mobile home park’s permit to operate and collect rent had been suspended, until the April 29 fire.

City officials immediately took steps to assume control of code enforcement responsibilities at all mobile home parks within city limits; previously HCD had been in charge of that.

In June, the city took over code enforcement. In November, the California Receivership Group was appointed to take charge of the property and bring it up to code. Since then, the roads of the mobile home park have been repaired and the piles of trash removed, and the grounds of the burned mobile homes cleared.

The receivership group has already set up a temporary office for a property manager, according to court documents.

The next conference on the status of the property will be held Feb. 22.

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Cassandra is a housing and engagement reporter with Fresnoland.