Toddler killed with mother in South L.A. fire identified

The toddler who was killed with his mother when a fire broke out in their South Los Angeles home was identified Thursday as 1-year-old Dillan Reyes, coroner officials said.

They had not yet identified his mother. The two were killed Wednesday morning in a fire that broke out in the garage where their family lived in the 170 block of East 50th Street. Officials had initially said the boy was 2 years old.

They are the most recent victims in a growing number of fire fatalities in Los Angeles in what officials say is an alarming trend.

Dillan was not breathing and had no pulse when firefighters arrived. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The toddler's mother was found later in a bedroom, LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore said.

Their deaths mark the 10th and 11th civilian fire fatalities in 2014, more than half the city's yearly average of 20.

One of this year's deaths — a 98-year-old woman who was killed when her furnace caught fire — occurred three blocks from Wednesday's blaze.

"It's alarming to be entering the month of March — and we are in the fifth day of March — and we're already at the alarming rate of 11 fatalities," Moore said Wednesday.

Investigators have not yet determined what sparked the fire or whether the garage had working smoke detectors. They were also looking into whether the blaze was related to a report of smoke in the area about 90 minutes before the blaze.

Three engines and two trucks responded to the first call, Moore said, but firefighters thought the smoke came from a tar pot and did not find any fire.

Neighbors said the family — a man, woman and two children — had lived in the garage for a few years. The father and the other child, an 8-year-old who was at school, were not home at the time of the blaze.

The father arrived at the garage Wednesday afternoon, consoled by friends and relatives as his sobs could be heard across the street.

"It was my son," he said in Spanish. "My baby."

As the number of deaths rose this year, fire officials focused on developing a public awareness campaign on the importance of working smoke alarms. Many of the fatal fires occurred in homes without the devices, they said.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a motion earlier this year to ensure that all residences have smoke alarms that function properly.

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