FRANKLIN BOROUGH — The parents of a 13-year-old who died in a house fire last year have filed a lawsuit against their landlord and the local fire department, saying that their daughter’s death was preventable.

Matthew and Dorothy Davenport say the smoke detectors didn’t work at the time of the March 2021 fire due to Walter Biller’s failure to have the rental home on Nestor Street inspected before they moved in.

The fire claimed the life of Heaven Davenport, who was trapped by the flames while sleeping upstairs.

According to the complaint filed July 20 in Superior Court in Sussex County, the Davenports also accuse the Franklin Fire Department of "negligence," saying they did not bring a ladder to the scene and did not enter the home for an "extended period of time."

The suit also says that the borough firefighters who responded had been at a local celebration where they had been drinking alcohol.

Fire departments from Franklin, Hardyston and Hamburg, along with Hardyston Police, Wallkill Valley First Aid Squad and St. Clare’s paramedics all responded to the scene on March 19, 2021, as previously reported.

The lawsuit sought an unspecified amount for damages, pain and suffering.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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