This is why you carry renters insurance - there are several displaced people who are displaced as a direct result of one person’s actions. If that person has liability coverage, those people will be able to be made whole, or at least as whole as they can in proportion to their part of the total loss relative to the policy limit. Without liability coverage, the person who started the fire can be held personally responsible for displacement, injuries, deaths, and property damage attributable to their actions.
Fire investigators in Evansville, Ind., say smoking materials in a bed caused a smoky blaze that forced the evacuation of a 10-story apartment building for the elderly and the disabled where one person died.
Authorities say 66-year-old Gwendolyn Hunt died in the first-floor apartment where the accidental fire started Sunday evening.[...]
We understand that the deceased was using an oxygen tank, which certainly didn’t help slow the fire down. With that in mind, think about what the death of someone’s mother is worth from a civil liability standpoint. Think about having to be responsible for that amount of money. Not a pleasant thought, is it? This is why you need renters insurance.
More than ten people were taken to the hospital, according to the original article, and well over 150 people were unable to use their apartments for the night. If they had had renters insurance, they would have had coverage for a hotel or other temporary accommodation. Their carrier would then subrogate against the liability coverage of the person who started the fire, but the displaced people would have had immediate access to assistance from their carrier who would then deal with the liable party on the back end.
The original source suggests that the fire was contained to the fifth floor, but we have no firsthand accounts to confirm that. http://EffectiveCoverage.com/