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 on Aug. 3 when a fire broke out, killing the women and shattering their family.
“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 — father Lew, mother Alisa, son Zachary, 23, and the girls — had paid $8,000 to rent the house for a week. Pamela and Peter Miller owned the $1.8 million three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.
With patriarch Lewis Wiener, a former federal prosecutor, suffering from serious health issues, the journey was already bittersweet — but it turned into a nightmare when the family awoke at 3 a.m. to find the back of the house engulfed in flames.
Lindsay, a freshman at Tulane, and Jillian, a senior at the University of Michigan, were never found, 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 made their reservation on a popular website that allows vacationers to rent out residential properties. According to the suit, HomeAway sent the family an email stating that the owner of the Spring Lane house stated there were smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a fire extinguisher, and a first aid kit, among other safety features.