St. Paul home where fire injured girl had been cited

  • February 20, 2014 - 9:43 AM

A St. Paul residence where a 9-year-old girl was critically injured in a basement fire Monday was flagged by city inspectors two years ago because tenants illegally used the basement as a bedroom.

The city’s Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) received a complaint in April 2012 about possible overcrowding at the residence at 343 Maple St. in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood, according to records.

At that time, an investigator issued orders to the home’s owners because the basement was illegally being used as a sleeping area. To be used as a bedroom, the basement would need at least two exits and a smoke alarm, Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said.

The violations were later corrected, according to DSI records.

But the question of whether the basement was again being used as a bedroom resurfaced Monday when firefighters arrived to find Nevaeh Sellers, 9, trapped by smoke near one of two beds in the basement. She was listed in good condition Wednesday at Regions Hospital.

Zaccard said that the basement windows still weren’t large enough, nor was there a working smoke alarm.

There have been 14 complaints about the property since Abera and Selam Mulugeta, of Apple Valley, purchased the house in 2008, according to DSI records. Abera Mulugeta, 48, said Wednesday that most of the complaints stem from tenants he evicted before the most-recent tenants moved in in late 2012.

The home was supposed to reinspected last May but wasn’t because of a backlog and resource restrictions, said DSI spokesman Robert Humphrey.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Nicole Norfleet

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