When a fire swept through the summer vacation home the Wiener family had rented, they scrambled to escape. The parents and their male child got out, but the two girls in the family could not make it despite their father’s efforts.
A popular saying describes fire as a good servant but a terrible master. The truth of that statement rang in many hearts recently when a raging fire swept through the summer vacation home the Wiener family was renting.
It was an unfortunate incident, and the family will not forget it soon. How could they? They lost two young girls to the tyrannical flames and are now left to deal with their absence.
THE DEPARTED WIENERS
The two girls the fire claimed are Jillian and Lindsay Wiener, two graduates of the Holton-Arms School, an only girls’ private school in Bethesda, Maryland. According to a statement released by their school, Jillian was a talented athlete who played soccer and ice hockey in school.
She had a passion for yoga and raising awareness and funds for parents who had to care for kids with cancer. On the other hand, Lindsay was the president of the Jewish Culture Club and was very committed to her task of serving.
The school called her a “bright spirit and a leader.” According to the school’s statement, both girls had been kind and active community members whose actions impacted their respective classes and the school as a whole.
Jillian was about to start her senior year at the University of Michigan as an Earth and Environmental Science student, while Lindsay was only a few weeks away from her sophomore year at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Neighbors who knew the girls said they were very “close-knit” and “kind.” Lewis Wiener, their father, is the president of the Washington Hebrew Congregation in D.C.
The congregation released a statement mourning their passing. It read:
“The world has lost two beautiful lights today, and the Washington Hebrew Congregation community is heartbroken. Through their leadership and service, acts of kindness, and friendship, the Wiener family — Lewis, Alisa, Zach, Jillian, and Lindsay – has touched so many lives at Washington Hebrew.”
The note ended with a pledge of support from the church to “support and lift up” the Wieners while they grapple with their grief.
The Wiener family decided to take a trip to New York before their kids had to return to college. On August 3, they were all sleeping deeply around 3.30 a.m. in the home located in Noyack Bay, Long Island, when the fire started.
Lewis, the patriarch of the family, woke up to the sound of glass shattering and tried to get his family members out to safety as soon as he pinpointed what was happening. He and his wife made it out safely, but the fire spread too quickly, so they had no chance to round up their kids.
Fortunately, their son, Zachary, 23, was able to escape by using the second-story window of the 1,624-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. He had to jump to safety, but he escaped without life-threatening injuries.
His sisters, Jillian and Lindsay, were not so lucky. They were trapped in their room upstairs, and the fire blocked every possible exit. Unable to bear the thought of leaving his girls to die, Lewis attempted to run through the flames to save them, but it was too late.
The fire had dominated the first floor, and running through it was suicide, so Lewis, the doting father, watched helplessly as the house burned.
Firefighters from five communities who arrived to extinguish the flames also tried to make their way in to help the girls, but according to local fire chief Kevin O’Brien Jr., the flames pushed back.
So the best bet was to extinguish the flames as fast as possible while hoping the girls somehow lived. Unfortunately, they did not. The fire did not burn their bodies; however, they had inhaled too much smoke.
Medics quickly took over, taking them to a hospital and performing CPR on them. However, it did nothing; Jillian and Lindsay had succumbed to the flames. Lewis and the rest of the Wiener family were treated for minor injuries, but the real wound within will only heal with time.
WHAT CAUSED THE FIRE
Authorities have ruled out foul play, but that does not answer the question of what happened. According to the police, the home had been listed for rent on Zillow even though they could not figure out why.
The home had been rented, but police could not find any link between the Wieners and the listed owner. The Town’s emergency management administrator also stated that the property had no rental permit documented, and no safety inspection had been done.
According to the administrator, a rental permit would have required them to carry out a safety inspection before applying for one, but there had been none.
Murphy urged online renters never to skip inspection and permits in the future so that such deaths could be prevented. Ryan Murphy said:
“It’s a tragic situation. Had there been a rental permit on the property, perhaps additional safety standards might have been in place that could have made this preventable. But you can do everything right and still have an accident. It’s just nice to be able to say you checked all the boxes.”
COMMENTS ON THE TRAGEDY
The death was a tragedy felt the most by those Jillian and Lindsay left behind; however, since news of the flames spread on the internet, some netizens have expressed empathy for the family’s loss. Some of the comments read:
“How horrible, May they RIP and the family find peace.”
— (@Pam Morrow) August 7, 2022
“Sending prayers for the family.”
— (@Doreen McCall) August 7, 2022
It is indeed a tragedy, but everyone hopes that Lewis and the rest of his family will slowly come to terms with what happened and then move forward no matter how difficult it seems. The cause of the fire still remains unknown, and investigations are ongoing.
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