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Parents sue housing authority after fatal fire

The parents of a child who died last year in a fire at a public housing apartment are suing the Tampa Housing Authority, alleging negligence contributed to their son's death.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Hillsborough Circuit Court by Gregory and Denise Reynolds, whose 8-year-old son, Gregory Reynolds Jr., died in June 1997.

Gregory's shirt caught fire as he warmed his hands over a stove because the heat was broken in his public housing apartment, according to the lawsuit.

Gregory, who lived at 1859 Cano Court, suffered burns on 80 percent of his body and survived for two months after the accident, the suit said.

His mother had complained to housing authority representatives before the fire that the heater was broken and the apartment was continuously cold, the suit said. She also asked that they replace her gas stove with an electric one because she was worried about safety, but nothing was ever done, the suit said.

No one at the Tampa Housing Authority could be reached for comment.

The lawsuit comes two days after the release of a blistering federal report on conditions in Tampa's public housing complexes. Among other findings, the report accused Tampa Housing Authority officials of allowing apartments to fall into disrepair.