A mobile home on the Aquilini-owned Red Mountain Vineyard in Washington State caught on fire in July 2017. (Benton County Sheriff’s Department)

Aquilini companies deny negligence in U.S. vineyard fire that killed two kids

Fire occurred at Red Mountain Vineyard, located in southeast Washington State

Several businesses owned by the Aquillini family are denying any negligence after a fire killed two children on property owned by the family’s vineyard in Washington State.

The response, filed in King County Superior Court on Oct. 16 against multiple Aquilini businesses including Luigi Aquilini, was in response to a civil suit the parents of the children filed in July. The Aquillini family owns the Vancouver Canucks and a number of B.C. development properties.

The negligent death suit stems from a July 2017 fire at the Red Mountain Vineyard, located in southeast Washington State. The suit alleges two children died of injuries from the fire as a result of the Aquillinis’ negligence.

In their response, the companies argue they are not liable because the family were “trespassers” on the property.

In the suit, parents Sergio and Erika Hernandez said they left their two kids, Alex, 10, and Patty, 7, sleeping in the home while they briefly stepped out.

Sergio returned home to see smoke and flames coming from the homes. He said he ran inside and rescued his children from the smoke and flame filled home.

The civil suit alleges Patty and Alex died in August 2017 and January 2018, respectively, after experiencing “horrific suffering and pre-death pain” in hospital.

The parents claim there were no working smoke detectors in the home, which made it so “there was no warning” to those inside that a fire was brewing.

But in the initial suit, the Hernandez family said the mobile home they lived in with their two children was provided by the vineyard.

The Hernandezes allege that the Aquilini-owned business carried out “extensive work” on the mobile home and altered the electrical system, all without any permits or safety inspections.

In the companies’ response, they state the Hernandez family’s claims “if any,” were “proximately caused by the faults of other persons” over which the companies had no control over.

Sergio, court documents said, has been unable to work since the fire after suffering burns on more than 30 per cent of his body.

The companies alleges the family’s damages are a “result of the plaintiffs’ failure to mitigate” them. The companies ask for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

The suit asks for general, special and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees, from the Aquilinis and their businesses.

Luigi Aquilini has yet to file a response.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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