Department of Building and Safety

Property Owner Charged in Sylmar Fire That Killed Family

The owner of a converted barn in Sylmar has been charged in connection with a fire that claimed the lives of a family of four who were living there earlier this year.

The Estrada family had been living at the converted barn for about three months when a deadly fire broke out on January 13, neighbors told NBC4. Investigators said at the time that the barn was not equipped with smoke detectors though a friend of the property owner claimed there were.

On Friday, Leonarda Duenez Aguilar was charged with six criminal counts connected to the fire, including failure to 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, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Attorney’s Office.

If found guilty, the maximum penalty is six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each charge.

Firefighters extinguished the second-floor fire in about 25 minutes. The bodies of Maria Estrada, the mother; and Uriel Estrada, the father; and their 7-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter were found dead inside the building.

The cause of the fire was unknown.

Jonathan Lloyd, Toni Guinyard and Jane Yamamoto contributed to this report.

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