Candle blamed for fatal house fire in Hacienda Heights

HACIENDA HEIGHTS — A woman was trying to rescue her 3-year-old adopted son from a house fire Sunday when both were killed, officials said.
An unattended candle in the living room started the accidental house fire shortly before 11 p.m. in the 1700 block of Piermont Drive, Lt. Eduardo Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
The names of the woman and child were not released Tuesday pending notification of family members, Los Angeles County Coroner’s Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
The 48-year-old woman’s husband and 9-year-old daughter were injured but survived the fire in the 1700 block of Piermont Drive, officials said.
“The cause of the fire was determined to be an unattended candle in the living room, which ignited and quickly engulfed the house,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Thomas said in a written statement.
No crime is suspected, and investigators ruled out arson, Hernandez said.
After the flames erupted, “The woman’s husband saved their daughter from the flames and carried her outside,” Thomas said.
Thomas said the man, 48, returned to the house to find his wife and the toddler. The wife had also returned to the home in search of the boy.
“She realized her son was back in there and went for her son,” Deputy Tony Moore said. But both the woman and the boy “were unable to be rescued until firefighters arrived,” Thomas said.
The woman and boy were taken to a hospital where they were pronounced dead, officials said.
The man and his daughter were taken to hospitals and treated for smoke inhalation, as well as for injuries the father suffered during the rescue attempt.
The father remained hospitalized in serious condition Tuesday, Hernandez said, while the girl had been released from the hospital.
There were no working smoke detectors in the home, Hernandez said.
He added that sounds which some nearby residents reported as gunshots during the fire were believed to be the sounds of the father breaking windows as he tried to rescue his children.
A memorial of flowers, stuffed animals, balloons, photographs and candles continued to grow in front of the remains of the burned home Tuesday.
A sign left by neighbors thanked others for their support, but asked that the candles at the memorial not be left burning unattended.
Neighbor Omar Aguilar said he was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the fire.
“They’re going to be missed,” he said. “This block’s never going to be the same again.”

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