Sunday, April 28, 2013

Insurance sleuth: Electrical fire before West blast

Blaze extinguished 'in less than an hour'

West – Cynthia Colvin-Montgomery is a picture of frustration. Her business is stymied by FBI and ATF investigators who want to tear down structures before she can appraise the damage they sustained in the fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. on Wednesday, April 17.

With an extensive background in alternative dispute resolution, mediations, investigations and the ins and outs of seeking a settlement with insurance carriers, she is adamant about her role.

Her business card, printed in bright red with reversed white type, proclaims “Proof of Loss,” her motto: “We work for you not the insurance co.” It lists a rural address near Lewisville.

She is operating under Public Adjuster Lic. No. TL 1345262.

Her claim is this.

I got in ATF agents' faces and FBI agents' faces last Saturday because they were going to start tearing down homes and I've got to go in and - you know what I've got to do...”

To do that, she explains, she first has to get in there to see what was damaged, and to what extent. She has a background in marine and industrial fumigation, but lost that license when the Department of Homeland Security took over scrutinizing all high security industries. She did not say why.

You should have seen us out in the corn fields,” she adds. They caught us trying to sneak in to get a look at the damage. They turned us around.”

In other words, in a disaster area with a crater 90 feet wide and 10 feet deep, if you destroy the evidence, then it can no longer be treated as either a crime scene, as officials have proclaimed, or a scene of a horrible accident, which must be appraised. So it goes.

In an electrifying aside, she looks sidelong, says over the blaring sounds of a country band playing an outdoor benefit for the homeless homeowners and injured survivors of the blast, “Did you know there was an electrical fire out there, earlier in the day?”

At what time, and according to whom, she is asked.

She won't say. An electrician with whom she has negotiated a contract must first give his approval to be named, she said.

They had it out in less than an hour.”

The problem, she says, is that “These people won't sue.”

She sounds amazed. It seems to be a cultural thing, this reluctance to enter into litigious controversy among members of the Bohemian and Moravian-American community of West.

I had a whole bunch of women down at the motel. None of them seem aware that their lives are in jeopardy, that they have no home.” She shrugs in frustration.

What, exactly, did the electrician do?

He flipped the switches, re-set the breakers, and went back to the shop to write up an estimate of what it would take to fix the problem.”

Where did the problem occur?

She says only that she knows it was at the fertilizer company, in which a fire burned briefly before a massive explosion heard as far away as Arlington and felt in Hillsboro blew the building sky high, flattened nearly a hundred homes.

"You know, the men in black will probably come take you away if you write this up and print it?"

Yeah? Whatever.

She asks, in parting, "Are you a conspiracist?" I answer, "No, ma'am, I'm a newsman. "Are the federal authorities investigating, or are they covering up?" she asks
  • The Legendary
NEXT: The Legendary will conduct a records search in an attempt to locate mention of the electrical fire so alleged...

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