District authorities have cited the owner of a Dupont Circle house where two tenants died in a June fire, saying inspectors found no license to rent rooms, according to a city regulatory agency.
The notices of infractions name the building owner, Len Salas, and his father, Max E. Salas, who lived in the house and who one tenant said was the person who accepted rent checks. Three infraction notices were issued by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, each leveling fines of $2,000.
The Washington Post reported days after the June 3 fire in the 1600 block of Riggs Place NW that the three-story townhouse was not properly licensed. The infraction notices were issued last week and made public on Thursday.
The early-morning fire claimed the lives of Nina Brekelmans, 25, and Michael Patrick McLoughlin, 24, who lived in separate rooms on the third floor of the red-brick house just off 16th Street NW. Max Salas lived on the first and second floors, and was injured in the fire. Another tenant who was not home at the time lived in the basement. Authorities said the blaze was started by an electrical short.
Families of both victims have filed $10 million wrongful-death lawsuits against Len and Max Salas.
The suits allege that Brekelmans and McLoughlin were trapped in their respective rooms and were unable to escape the fire because of inoperable or missing smoke detectors, windows that failed to open and the lack of a fire escape. One suit says that McLoughlin was sleeping when the fire broke out and that after he woke up, he “was unable to exit the burning building.”
The suits also say that the Salases failed to properly install and maintain electrical appliances and wiring.
Len Salas could not be reached for comment Thursday. He does not have a lawyer listed in the civil case. Max Salas’s attorney, Roderick Barnes, declined to comment on the case and the infraction notices.
The Salases can challenge or admit to the infractions. If they deny them, an administrative hearing will be held.
Brekelmans had graduated from Georgetown University in May with a master’s degree in Arabic studies, focused on women’s rights in the Arab world. She was headed to the Middle East to research Jordan’s female distance runners.
McLoughlin graduated magna cum laude in 2012 from the University of Maryland with degrees in finance and economics. He worked at an insurance company.