The Houston boarding house where a fire killed two occupants and injured a third was operating without a city permit.
The Houston Chronicle reports Briscoe's Place was an unregulated rooming house with about 20 windowless bedrooms rented to the down-and-out.
The newspaper reports the building had received a city permit to operate as a banquet hall but not as a residential building. City officials say they denied a Fire Prevention Permit for a boarding house.
A fire official described the building as a "maze" to navigate.
Firefighters encountered heavy smoke when they arrived early Thursday morning at the home, which is part of a dilapidated plaza south of downtown.