“Homeaway.com declared Sag Harbor rental safe before fatal fire: lawsuit”
A Sag Harbor summer rental where two college-age sisters were killed in a fire had “worthless carcasses of non-functioning alarms” — but a popular vacation rental website portrayed the property as safe, according to a lawsuit.
Jillian Wiener, 21, and her sister Lindsay, 19, of Potomac, Md., were vacationing with their parents and older brother at 3 Spring Lane, when a fire erupted on Aug. 3, killing the women and leaving their family shattered.
“Rather than fond memories of a week’s vacation on Long Island’s east end, the Wiener family is left with a nightmare from which they cannot wake,” the family declared in their Brooklyn Federal Court filing against Homeaway.com and the property owners.
The Wieners — dad Lew, mom Alisa, and son Zachary, 23, and the girls — had spent $8,000 to rent the home for a week. The three-bedroom, two-bath, $1.8 million house was owned by Pamela and Peter Miller.
With patriarch Lewis Wiener, a former federal prosecutor, suffering serious health issues, the trip was already bittersweet — but it became a hellscape when the family awoke at 3 a.m. to the rear of the home engulfed in flames.
Jillian, a senior at the University of Michigan, and Lindsay, a freshman at Tulane, never made it out, leaving their parents “broken” and their brother “haunted.”
The family later learned the home’s outdoor kitchen, which they had tried to use in the hours before the fire, had never been inspected; the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms weren’t working, and the home had multiple violations from the town of Southampton, according to court papers.
The Wieners booked through a popular website that lets vacationers rent residential properties. HomeAway sent the family an email stating the owner of the Spring Lane house said there were smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a fire extinguisher, and a first aid kit, among other safety features, the suit says.
“This is as reckless a situation as you can find,” said the family’s attorney, Andres Alonso. “This didn’t need to happen and it happened because everyone decided they were going to take shortcuts.”
A spokeswoman for VRBO, which owns HomeAway, declined comment on the litigation. Pamela Miller did not respond to a message seeking comment.
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