GALVESTON - An insurance company is seeking more than $500,000 from a contractor who allegedly started a fire at a policyholder's home.

Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Cos. filed a lawsuit Oct. 5 in Galveston County District Court against J's Home Contractor and MHI Partnership Ltd.

Texas Farm Bureau claims that MHI Partnership improperly constructed an outdoor balcony on the League City residence of policy holder Noah Shamburger and his wife. The improper construction caused structural damage that required the restoration services of J's Home Contractor.

A blowtorch used during the repairs was allegedly left on during the workers' lunch break and ignited the blaze on Aug. 23, 2009 blaze, the suit says.

According to court papers, recreational golfers from an adjacent golf course noticed the smoke billowing from the house, scaled the security fence and fought the flames while neighbors contacted the local fire department.

"The fire quickly engulfed the home, causing a total loss," the suit states.

The suit pinpoints the origin of the blaze to the propane torch's position near the site of the exterior leak.

The insurance claims it paid more than $500,000 to the policyholders for the loss of their home.

The Law Offices of Robert L. McElhaney Jr. is representing Texas Farm Bureau, and Galveston County 405th District Court Judge Wayne Mallia is presiding over the case.

Case No. 10-cv-3862

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