AP NEWS

Retired top general files suit against military housing firms after fire loss

May 3, 2019

Gen. Joseph Votel, the Army four-star general who oversaw all U.S.-led combat operations in the Middle East as head of U.S. Central Command, has filed lawsuits against several military housing companies for a 2017 fire that destroyed his family’s home at command headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

Gen. Votel and his wife Michele reportedly lost ”“irreplaceable and unique furnishings, household goods, art, clothing, jewelry and other items” due to the fire, according to legal filings tied to the lawsuit.

The Votel family is arguing the fire was the result of negligence by the housing companies, contracted by the Pentagon to build and maintain a majority of the private homes at MacDill Air Force base.

Investigators at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Tampa Fire Department found the fire was started when the company’s contractors, who were renovating the home, accidentally ruptured an electrical line in the house which sparked the fire. The damage was so severe, the house had to eventually be leveled, according to the lawsuit.

Gen. Votel officially stepped down as the head of Central Command at the end of March, passing the reins to new command chief Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie. Military Times first reported details of the investigation and subsequent lawsuit.