Hawaiian Gardens

A 19-year-old woman rescued three of her neighbors, a mother and two children, from a burning garage that had been converted into living quarters. Alex Zabien, 4, and a cousin, Nora Tijerina, 3, were led through the smoke-filled garage at 22425 Joliet Ave. to safety by Maria Arrendo. Unable to see because of smoke, Arrendo shouted until the mother, Jezabel Guajardo, 30, who was sleeping inside, awakened and ran outside, said Sheriff Lt. John Anderson.

After the three were safe, Arrendo telephoned the Fire Department from another neighbor’s home, Anderson said. “She did everything but put the fire out,” he said.

The Fire Department extinguished the blaze Monday in 10 minutes. Damage was estimated at $13,000. The fire may have been started in a sofa by children playing with matches, fire Captain Ronald Messner said.

Arrendo said she observed the smoke, ran next door, led the children outside and returned to the dwelling after being told by the little boy that his mother was sleeping inside.


“I couldn’t see anyone in the room because of the smoke, so I yelled and yelled,” Arrendo said. “I yelled for about four minutes before she woke up and came out.” Arrendo, who displayed little emotion during the event, said afterwards, “I’m nervous.”

There were no injuries.