Owner Charged in Sylmar Structure Fire That Killed Mother, Father, 2 Children

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Firefighters responded to a structure fire in Sylmar that killed a family of four on Jan. 13, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Multiple charges have been filed against a property owner in connection with a structure fire in Sylmar earlier this year that claimed the lives of four members of the same family, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office announced on Friday.

Leonarda Duenez Aguilar owned the barn-like structure located in the 13800 block of Eldridge Avenue (map) that went up in flames on January 13, according to a news release from the City Attorney’s Office.

A couple and their two children, a pre-teen boy and girl, were found by firefighters huddled together on the first floor of the structure, where they lived, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jaime Moore said following the incident.

It appeared the family was looking for “some kind of shelter or escape,” Moore said.

“Unfortunately the area they were found in, there was no means of escape there,” he added.

The structure was being legally used as a residence, but Aguilar had allegedly altered it and added a bathroom and kitchen, both of which were not permitted, the release stated.

Inspectors also said they did not find any smoke detectors in the bedrooms and surrounding areas inside the living space.

Aguilar has been charged with six criminal counts, including “failure to install smoke detectors, illegal use of land, illegal construction, lack of electrical permits, lack of plumbing permits, and failure to comply with orders from the Department of Building and Safety,” the release stated.

Each charge carries a maximum potential sentence of 6 months jail time, as well as a $1,000 fine.

Aguilar is scheduled to be arraigned on July 2.

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