Two Indian motel owners in New Jersey were indicted by a county court after three people were killed during a fire in their motel because the exit doors were reportedly illegally locked and they could not escape.
Randhir Maisuria, 39, and Prakash Patel, 37, both of Roselle Park, New Jersey, and their business, Chevlin Building Corporation, were charged by the Essex county prosecutors for risking widespread injury by ignoring safety regulations.
The fire happened in October last year at the three-story Irvington Motor Lodge. The flames quickly engulfed a large portion of the 80-room motel, said the Essex county prosecutor Paula T Dow.
Investigators have not been able to determine the exact cause of the fire, but firefighters said they found an exit door chained and locked from the inside and had to use axes to chop it down to reach the people trapped inside.
Maisuria and Patel had been fined on two early occasions also for having chained the same doors, officials said, according to the New York Times.
"This was a tragedy. But not a tragedy that should result in criminal charges against my clients," Michael Critchley, a lawyer of the motel owners, said.